Nicaragua’s abortion ban, implemented a year ago, is hurting women a lot more than it is doing anything else. The ban calls for imprisonment of women, and the people who help them (including doctors) when they have an abortion, even in the case of saving the woman’s life. It is among Central America’s most restrictive abortion laws that limits women, and puts their lives in danger.
The ban, which has resulted around 80 deaths so far (according to the International Herald Tribune) has put women at a standstill. The law says that the country will prosecute anybody who has an abortion, but what about the women who are facing pregnancy complications that could lead to death? Are they supposed to pick between going to jail or dying? The high rate of deaths because of illegal abortions in that country is astonishing as well.
The recent release of the Human Rights Watch report on the blanket ban has shed some light into how it has evolved. Women do not want to go get public medical help during their pregnancies in case they have a miscarriage, and are sent to jail. Doctors are also worried about “assisting” in these miscarriages and some are even denying women of medical help.
The fact that the government refuses rights to these women is appalling, and are in affect sentencing these women to die, whether from pregnancy complications or botched abortions. How does the Nicaraguan government ignore these facts? Do they stick to their beliefs that they are only trying to save the fetuses lives when in fact, they are sentencing these women to death? How much longer will this law be butchering women?
The fight to get rid of the ban though, mainly because of the strong, religious background of the people, but the Nicaraguan Feminist Movement and several other groups have already filed petitions to declare the ban unconstitutional. Since the courts have yet to rule, the battle wages on as many human rights groups and activists continue to show the fallout of this horrible ban, especially in the U.S.
Nicaragua’s blanket ban on abortion, and its consequences, should be a reminder to all how imperative women’s reproductive rights are, especially when right-wing legislators are working to chip away these rights everyday. According to a recent New York Times article, a global study has shown that outlawing abortions still does not reduce the number of them happening. If anything, it increases the number of deaths among women who do choose to have an abortion.
The situation reaches all women, and as we work towards fighting for all women’s rights, we should remember the words of Lucy Stone, “Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things.”