by Steven Ertelt
January 9, 2007
Managua, Nicaragua (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates in Nicaragua have asked the Supreme Court there to overturn the nation’s new ban on all abortions. The ban prohibits abortions for rape and incest or to save the life of the mother and President Enrique Bolaños signed it into law last November.
Abortion advocates told the nation’s high court that the abortion ban violates "fundamental rights and principles," according to a Reuters report.
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. It is behind the Supreme Court lawsuit.
"Pressure is being applied to Nicaragua’s Supreme Court by those who stand to gain the most financially from the liberalization of Nicaragua’s protective pro-life laws," Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com.
"Latin America continues to be under attack from pro-abortion forces who want to see the same type of abortion on demand for any reason in those countries as we have here in the United States," he added.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, the director of the pro-abortion HRW 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 in November.
The Nicaragua Supreme Court has no timeframe to rule on the case to overturn the ban.
It is seen as independent by some but Rojas tells LifeNews.com the court is open to political pressure because its members are elected by the Nicaraguan Assembly to seven year terms and must run for re-election.
"These justices can be lobbied as any legislator even though there is a presumption of them being apolitical," Rojas explained. He added that they may feel more pressure now that former Communist Party president Daniel Ortega is back in power.
The measure only went through the nation’s legislature because Ortega mounted a comeback. Seeking to get support from the Catholic 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.
But Rojas worries that Ortega and his supporters will switch back to a pro-abortion position now that he’s been elected.
The pro-abortion groups are also possibly preparing a case based on women who may need an abortion in a life-threatening situation and may to take it to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Nicaragua has accepted the authority of the Costa Rica-based international court.
The abortion ban put Nicaragua in league with thirty-four nations across the globe that prohibit all abortions. It changed the country’s pro-life 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 this week, 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.
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."
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.