Nicaraguan president signs abortion ban

The new ban has no exceptions, not even to save a mother's life.


Page Rockwell
November 20, 2006 9:00PM (UTC)

No big surprise, but depressing news nonetheless: On Friday, Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños signed a law banning all abortions in the country, the New York Times reports. As we noted last month, abortions were already illegal in the country, but women could obtain abortions if they found three doctors to testify that their lives were in danger. That nearly impossible standard meant that few legal abortions were performed in Nicaragua, so practically speaking the new ban doesn't change matters much. But the fact that legislators would rather see women die than terminate life-threatening pregnancies really underscores that women are prized as incubators rather than valued as citizens. I guess we should be thankful for (very) small favors, though: President Bolaños had hoped to make the penalty for getting or performing an illegal abortion 30 years in prison, but the final version of the legislation keeps the sentence at six years.

Incoming president Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista leader who was also president from 1985 to 1990, performed a lot of political acrobatics to prevail in the country's recent election, not all of them bad: His platform focused on addressing Nicaragua's class inequities, for one thing. But in a bid for the support of the country's Roman Catholic Church, he also supported the total abortion ban; the Times suggests this support contributed to his narrow victory earlier this month. It's too bad that reproductive rights for women didn't factor into Ortega's egalitarian vision.

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Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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