Feminism | Posted by Jessica S on 04/23/2010

Nicaraguan Government and Restrictive Abortion Laws

Nicaragua

Nicaragua

I recently read an article about how the Nicaraguan government is denying cancer treatment to a women because she is pregnant. This is only the latest outrage in a country that has the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. The case concerns a 27-year-old woman who has cancer that is suspected to have spread to her brain, lungs and breasts. But Nicaraguan authorities have withheld life-saving treatment from her because it could harm the fetus and violate the country’s total ban on abortion.

Nicaragua has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world. It is one of the few countries to prohibit abortion under any circumstances. Girls and women who seek an abortion — as well as health professionals who provide health services associated with abortion — face jail.

Needless to say, these restrictions have taken their toll. According to official figures, 33 girls and women died in pregnancy in 2009; the year before, 20 died. Amnesty International believes these figures are only a minimum, as the government itself has acknowledged that the number of maternal deaths is under-recorded.

It gets worse. According to a survey of media reports between ’05 and ’07, 1,247 girls were reported in newspapers to have been raped or to been the victims of incest in Nicaragua. Of these crimes, 198 were reported to have resulted in pregnancy. The overwhelming majority of the girls made pregnant as a result (172 of them) were between 10 and 14 years old.

A Nicaraguan Catholic Church

A Nicaraguan Catholic Church

The Nicaraguan abortion ban isn’t only a debacle on humanitarian grounds. It’s an enormous setback for women’s rights in this small country, once at the vanguard of women’s liberation in Latin America. It’s widely understood that Daniel Ortega, the two-time president of Nicaragua who is currently in power, signed onto this abortion ban as a paean to the country’s powerful Catholic Church, which launched an aggressive campaign against abortion back in ’06 (the law was enacted in ’07).

This case is not only a problem within the government of Nicaragua, but also a large problem withing the Catholic church. Coming from a Catholic school, I understand that the church has a “no abortion” policy, but I do not see the logic, or morale, in sacrificing one life for another. A reformation of the church’s understanding on the matter of abortion must take place. I understand that a child is a life, but so is a mother, and surely the church should see that.

This brings up a question I have often times asked myself:

Is it right to make an attempt to save a child if it costs the mother, and perhaps even that child, life?

The answer is a resounding “no”, as far as I am concerned.

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  • Desiree @ at 2:44 pm, April 23rd, 2010

    Dumb laws like abortion bans make me so mad. International feminism is so necessary.

  • Naizzers @ at 3:24 pm, April 23rd, 2010

    I absolutely agree. My main problem with the anti-choice, especially those who are opposed to abortion in ANY circumstance, is that they are willing to risk the life of the woman/girl, a nonperson once her uterus is occupied, even when it’s likely that not only will she die but also her baby because it doesn’t take a medical degree to understand no “host” no baby. I don’t understand how anyone can have this logic; that a possible life is valued higher than a life already being lived and that it’s better that the mother or both die than have an abortion. I would think that those who seem to value a life so much would be appalled at two deaths rather then one.
    The fact that there are people out there who don’t see a problem with a woman, especially a child, giving birth to the result of a rape (what a way to move on from a horrifying experience, eh?) or worse, their family member’s offspring are simply beyond my understanding. It’s simply a monstrous thing to do to a person.

  • Taylor S @ at 5:54 pm, April 23rd, 2010

    Naizzers, the belief held today is that abortion is secretly not about the baby’s life at all (in cases like this of course).

    It’s really just a way to control another aspect of a woman’s life. The power to control one’s nether regions is a volatile one, and the old men in suits in charge oftentimes would like to do whatever it takes to make sure that power rests in their hands, and not those of which it belongs.

    It’s horrible.

    If they cared so much about preserving the sanctity of life, wouldn’t they work harder to prevent wars and provide medical care to those that need it? Policing our uteri isn’t going to do nearly the good a real philanthropic cause would.

  • Michelle @ at 9:14 pm, April 23rd, 2010

    I completely agree with Naizzers and Taylor S. I dislike when people view an unborn child as more important than the woman, who is already living. I cannot believe that a government would subject an innocent woman to the torture of going through life living with cancer.

    I don’t suppose there is any way for her to recieve treatment else where???

  • KS @ at 11:12 am, April 24th, 2010

    As Taylor S mentioned, I don’t think anti-abortion is really about the unborn fetus’ life at all. (And if that’s the case, the notion that an unborn organism is more important than a suffering mother is ridiculous.) It’s just another form of power and denial since allowing abortion would mean that the government officials are recognizing that horrible violence against women such as rape and incest are happening on daily basis.

    And yes, please follow up with this! I’d like to know whether she can receive treatment in another country.

    KS

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