Monday, September 24, 2007
Andrea Lynch writes for the RH Reality Check blog (9/21):
I left Nicaragua in April of this year, a few weeks after International Women's Day. On that day, thousands of women gathered in front of the Supreme Court and elsewhere in the capital city of Managua to protest the ban on therapeutic abortion (abortion to save a woman's life) that had been passed unanimously by the Nicaraguan National Assembly in a misinformation-drenched political frenzy less than two weeks prior to the November 2006 presidential election, and signed into law by ex-president Enrique Bolaños shortly thereafter on November 17. The mood on International Women's Day was at once somber and hopeful-somber because several pregnant women had already died as a result of the ban, and hopeful because the Supreme Court was set to hear 25 separate challenges to its constitutionality in 2007. Although the highly polarized political climate in Nicaragua made feminists wary of expecting justice to be done, there was reason to be hopeful: the ban, after all, was actively opposed by the Nicaraguan medical community, dozens of community-based organizations and advocacy networks, and thousands of ordinary citizens, and even influential Church leaders and prominent members of the ruling Sandinista party had expressed doubt at the necessity of criminalizing abortion even in cases where a woman's life was at risk.
Sadly, events last week proved their hopes to be in vain. On Thursday, the National Assembly voted 66-3 to recriminalize therapeutic abortion during an overhaul of the Nicaraguan penal code, once again choosing unvarnished political opportunism over accepted medical consensus, not to mention concern for women's health (or, according to the ever-compassionate LifeSiteNews, women's "health") and lives.