Amnesty International Calls on Nicaragua to Repeal Law Banning All Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 24, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Amnesty International Calls on Nicaragua to Repeal Law Banning All Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 24
, 2009

Managua, Nicaragua ( — Putting its recent decision to adopt a pro-abortion position into further practical effect, the human rights group Amnesty International on Monday urged the government of Nicaragua to repeal a law making all abortions illegal.

The call comes after a United Nations committee said Nicaragua’s abortion law violates the Convention Against Torture.

Amnesty International is urging the government to repeal the law and make it so abortions are legal in cases of rape and incest and for the country’s Supreme Court to issue a decision on the legality and constitutionality of the law.

In a shadow briefing to the UN torture committee released in May, AI asserted that Nicaragua’s legislation banning all abortions was equivalent to government commissioned “torture” or at least “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” banned by the Convention.
Amnesty also claims that Nicaragua’s law "causes women and girls to die," an assertion disputed by pro-life critics.

"Nicaragua’s ban of therapeutic abortion is a disgrace. It is a human rights scandal that ridicules medical science and distorts the law into a weapon against the provision of essential medical care to pregnant girls and women," said Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International’s executive deputy secretary general.

But Carlos Polo, Director of Population Research Institute’s Latin American Office and a close observer of maternal health developments in Nicaragua, notes that "the best indicator of what is happening in any country regarding bad practices in gynecological and obstetric services are rates of maternal mortality."

He points out that Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health shows maternal deaths have decreased since Nicaragua tightened its laws on abortion.

When the UN torture committee valuated Nicaragua, it was the fourth UN panel to pressure the nation to end its ban on all abortions. Others included the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The abortion ban changed the country’s abortion statute, which formerly allowed abortions in cases when the mother’s life was in danger. Current law calls for six years in prison for illegal abortions.

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