Amnesty International has recently released a report about Nicaragua’s complete ban on abortion and the toll it has taken on the health of girls and women.
Nicaraguan law used to allow abortion if the mother’s life was threatened, but a new Penal Code enacted in 2008 has eliminated all exceptions and has enacted harsh prison sentences for both the women or girls who seek abortions and the health care professionals who perform or provide information about them. Even girls or women who suffer miscarriages and health professionals who provide treatment are subject to imprisonment, as it is often difficult or impossible to determine whether a pregnancy was deliberately terminated or not.
Officials report that 33 pregnant girls or women have died this year, a 60 percent increase from last year’s figures, and actual numbers are estimated to be higher.
Citing the ban as a violation of the rights of women and girls, the United Nations has demanded, through four different bodies: the Committee against Torture, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, that the Nicaraguan government repeal the law .
In the report, Amnesty ilustrates how the ban harshly discriminates against gender:
“Only women and girls risk physical and mental suffering or losing their lives as a result of delays in or denial of medical treatment if complications arise during pregnancy. Only women and girls are compelled to continue a medically dangerous or unwanted pregnancy or face imprisonment. Only women and girls suffer the mental anguish and physical pain of an unsafe abortion, risking their health and life in the process.”
Besides Nicaragua, El Salvador, Malta, Ireland and Chile are the only countries in the world with complete bans on abortion, although Chile allows for emergency contraception.
America should be among the countries setting the example on non-discriminatory laws. Take action by asking President Obama to keep protecting reproductive choice!