Nicaragua Abortion Advocates Look Ahead to Court Battle on Pro-Life Law

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nicaragua Abortion Advocates Look Ahead to Court Battle on Pro-Life Law Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16
, 2007

Managua, Nicaragua ( — Abortion advocates in Nicaragua are looking ahead to a court case that seeks to weaken the Central American nation’s law prohibiting all abortions. The nation’s high court is expected to deliver a decision in the case in either April or May and it could lead to the undermining of other pro-life laws in the region.

Last November, President Enrique Bolaños signed a new abortion ban into law that prohibits all abortions, including those for rape and incest or to save the life of the mother.

Saying the new ban violates "fundamental rights and principles," the New York-based Americas for Human Rights Watch has filed a lawsuit for abortion advocates in the nation seeking to overturn it.

Lilian Sepulveda, a legal adviser for the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion advocacy group in New York, claims the ban goes against international law and treaties.

"Because Nicaragua signed regional and international treaties, they have an obligation to respect international law," she said.

Pro-abortion groups, like Ipas, a North Carolina-based group, are worried that members of the Nicaragua high court will be susceptible to pressure from the Catholic Church.

"There is a possibility that what happened in October with the influence of the Catholic Church could happen again with this case," Marta Maria Blandon, of the group, told a pro-abortion web site.

Should they lose in the Nicaragua court, abortion advocates will head to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The latter, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States, says the new law is contrary to international documents.

Both agencies have issued previous rulings against Mexico and Peru in abortion cases.

Responding to the court case, Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for National Right to Life, told that "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."

"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.

Abortion advocates say the pro-life laws are resulting in the maternal deaths of women who have illegal abortions and Ipas estimates 30,000 Nicaraguan women have illegal abortions annually.

However, legalizing abortion in industrialized nations hasn’t made it any safer and Susan Yoshihara of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute says she doubts the figures are accuate. She also said that most any doctor is willing to treat women following complications from an abortion.

The abortion ban put Nicaragua in league with thirty-four nations across the globe that prohibit all abortions.