Under the banner “I accuse the State of Nicaragua,” various feminist and human-rights organizations marched on the Supreme Court Sept. 28 to demand the restitution of therapeutic abortion and to report some rather grim statistics on how the government is failing to protect the rights of its most vulnerable citizens.
According to the Strategic Group of the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion, 1,453 of the young girls (ages 10-14) who were raped in Nicaragua last year were forced to give birth due to Nicaragua’s total ban on therapeutic abortion.
The Nicaraguan government prohibits abortions even in cases to save a woman’s life or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy due to rape or incest.
Rights activists are demanding that the Sandinista-dominated Supreme Court rule on a motion of unconstitutionality filed against the total abortion ban five years ago. The Court, in another retardation of justice in Nicaragua, has been ignoring the motion since 2007. In comparison, the same Court ruled in a matter of days on President Daniel Ortega’s motion of unconstitutionality against the reelection ban, proving the magistrates are capable of moving quickly when the political winds are blowing in the right direction.
While the Sandinista government talks about “restoring the rights of women,” when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights, they were apparently talking about restoring the draconian laws of medieval times. The Sandinistas’ fundamentalist position on therapeutic abortion has been blasted by human-rights groups and left-wing organizations around the world as backwards and reactionary.
The ban on therapeutic abortion was passed by bipartisan support in 2006 as both political parties pandered to the Catholic and evangelical churches in an effort to win votes. The position was ratified in new Penal Code of 2007, which threatens doctors with prison time if they endeavor to uphold their Hippocratic Oath and save a woman’s life by interrupting a life-threatening pregnancy.
Nicaragua’s total ban on abortion—a position shared by only a handful of other conservative countries in the world—has been criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Center for Reproductive Rights, the UN and the EU. The Nicaraguan Association of Gynecologists has also come out against the political ban.
During Friday’s march, the women’s rights groups accused the Supreme Court, the National Police, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, President Daniel Ortega and the National Assembly for their collaboration in denying women the rights to health and life in Nicaragua.