Nicaragua became part of a dubious short list of countries in the world to outlaw all forms of abortion this year, when lawmakers and President Enrique Bolaños capitulated to pressures from the Catholic and Evangelical churches and reversed a century-old legal guarantee for women.
In November, in one of his last acts as President, Bolaños signed into law a complete abortion ban, following the legislature’s vote to reverse the 1893 Penal Code that allowed a woman to have therapeutic abortions in instances where her life is deemed at risk.
Now, any doctor who performs an abortive procedure to save a hemorrhaging pregnant woman could face up to 10 years in jail, as would the mother, if she manages to live through the procedure. Rights activists led by reproductiverights group IPAS Central America are preparing a legal challenge to the law, which will be presented before the Supreme Court in January.
Since passing the ban, at least one 18-year-old woman has died in childbirth – a life that could have been saved by a therapeutic abortion, activists claim.