Nicaragua President Signs Abortion Ban, Legal Challenge Likely

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nicaragua President Signs Abortion Ban, Legal Challenge Likely Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20
, 2006

Managua, Nicaragua ( — President Enrique Bolaños made the new ban on all abortions in Nicaragua official late Friday when he signed the measure the nation’s legislature approved. Now the country officially joins a list of thirty-four nations across the globe that prohibit all abortions, although a pro-abortion legal challenge is probably in the works.

The new law changes the country’s abortion statute, which formerly allowed abortions in cases when the mother’s life was in danger.

Some pro-abortion advocates hoped Bolaños, a conservative whose term ends in January, would not sign the measure because the legislature did not increase prison terms for abortion practitioners or women having abortions.

Current law calls for six years in prison for illegal abortions and Bolanos has wanted that increased to 30 years, which is different from American pro-life laws which consider women having abortions a second victim.

Now that the law has been signed, abortion advocates are expected to challenge it in court.

The New York-based Americas for Human Rights Watch is one of several pro-abortion groups in the United States that have been interfering with Central and South American nations on the issue of abortion.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the director of the group, says the abortion ban violates the right to life and equality of women.

"The new penal code doesn’t just go against basic human rights: It goes against fundamental principles of humanity," he told the pro-abortion Women’s eNews web site.

The site reports that abortion advocates are preparing to seek an injunction against enforcement of the law from Nicaragua’s Supreme Court, based on constitutional and medical arguments.

They are also preparing a case based on women who may need an abortion in a life-threatening situation and plan to take it to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Nicaragua has accepted the authority of the Costa Rica-based international court.

But pro-life advocates say that abortions are being used in Nicaragua for any reason while claiming they are done for legitimate medical reasons.

It is a prosperous business," said Max Padilla, a Catholic activist who worked for passage of the abortion ban. "Now the people involved in that business are defending their livelihoods, presenting false cases."

The measure only went through the nation’s legislature because Daniel Ortega, the former Marxist who was president, in the late 1980s, mounted a comeback. Seeking to get support from the Cathodic Church, his Sandinista Party, which had previously blocked efforts to approve the total abortion ban, flip-flopped.

As a result, Ortega won the November 5 election with about 38 percent of the vote.

Abortion advocates say only 24 legal abortions have been done in the nation in the last three years and claim that more than 32,000 illegal ones are done each year.

Nicaragua has a history of pro-life activism and it led a coalition of pro-life nations in August to object to ambiguous language that could be interpreted as providing for an international right to abortion.

Nicaragua led a group of 23 nations in objecting to including “sexual and reproductive health services” in the document saying it was vague and undefined and could be used to promote abortion in pro-life nations.

The nations eventually won a limited victory.