Abortions were already illegal in Nicaragua, but today a law passed removing an exception in the previous law, which allowed a woman to obtain an abortion legally with the approval of three doctors who confirmed that the woman’s life was in danger. Many conservatives in government advocated 30-year prison terms for women who terminate their pregnancies and the doctors who perform the abortions, but the stricter prison terms did not pass. Currently the punishment is a six-year prison term.
Nicaragua Eliminates Last Exception to Strict Anti-Abortion Law
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
MEXICO CITY, Nov. 19—Hopes among women’s groups in Nicaragua that President Enrique Bolaos would stop one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Latin America from taking effect have been dashed, as the president signed it into law late Friday.
Abortion has been illegal in Nicaragua for more than a century, and most women who decide to end unwanted pregnancies seek procedures at underground clinics. But the new law strikes out a clause that made it possible for a woman to obtain an abortion legally when three doctors certified that unless she did, her own life would be in danger.
For months, the proposed law has drawn fierce criticism from several local women’s groups, the country’s association of gynecologists, the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Human Rights Watch, among others.
L.A. Times from 10/26/2006 (before law was passed):
“The worst message of this proposed law is that the lives of women don’t matter to this president, or to the government or the church,” said Marta Maria Blandon, Central American director of Ipas, a U.S.-based reproductive rights group.
Ipas estimates that 32,000 illegal abortions are performed in Nicaragua each year, many under unsafe conditions. Only 24 abortions authorized by law have been performed in the country in the last three years.
In 2003, a 9-year-old rape victim received an abortion under the current law’s provisions.