Human Rights Watch recently issued a report called ’Over Their Dead Bodies’, detailing the impact of the absolute ban on abortion in Nicaragua. That’s correct — an absolute ban. Not even to save a woman’s life.
Not surprisingly, Human Rights Watch reports that at least 80 pregnant women have died since the ban went into effect just under a year ago.
On Oct. 26, 2006, an article in the Penal Code dating back to 1893 that allowed therapeutic abortion when a women’s life was in danger, or in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation, was struck down by the legislature just days before general elections.
The new article establishes prison sentences of four to eight years for a woman who has a therapeutic abortion and for the person who performs it.
Even though the Health Ministry had released detailed obligatory protocols for gynecological emergencies, including medical treatment after miscarriages or induced abortions, Human Rights Watch found that doctors are afraid to act, fearing being performing against the law, which has caused the deaths of numerous pregnant women.
This is shocking. People are shocked, right?
The Guardian reports:
The anti-abortion camp, in contrast, is euphoric. The new law, it says, is a beacon in the fight to protect the unborn. It is time to celebrate. “Now it is all penalised. And Catholics agree that is should be this way,” says Roberto González, 50, a Franciscan priest in Managua. “The population sees the church as behind the law – behind the pressure that succeeded in getting the government to change the law.”
The Master of Misogyny also celebrated the deaths of Nicaraguan women.
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI praised Nicaragua’s recent ban on abortion, saying the country had taken a pro-life stand against strong international pressures.
Here’s some background from wikipedia.
Remember when we lefties had such hope for Nicaragua? You know, back in the day, when the Sandanists, led by Daniel Ortega were putting up a plucky fight against the Merkin Empire?
Oh, wait. You say Daniel Ortega is President again? Now?
But how could he have allowed such a medieval, misogynist law to be passed?
Ortega’s policies became more moderate during his time in opposition, and he gradually reduced much of his former Marxist rhetoric in favor of an agenda of more moderate democratic socialism. His Roman Catholic faith has become more intense in recent years as well, leading Ortega to embrace a variety of socially conservative policies; in 2006 the FSLN endorsed a strict law banning all abortions in Nicaragua.
This is how the Guardian (link above) accounts for his change of heart:
Things changed. The war ended and the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, lost the presidency in a 1990 election. Church and state were supposedly separate but clerics wielded political clout, none more so than Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo. His hostility sank Ortega’s attempted comebacks in 1996 and 2001 elections.
In the run-up to last November’s election, the cardinal spearheaded a campaign for a blanket abortion ban. Ortega, desperate to regain power, mobilised the Sandinistas behind the cardinal’s campaign and helped get the ban enacted just days before the poll. The former revolutionary, now reinvented as a devout Catholic, was rewarded with the presidency.
Hm. From a socialist to a so-con Roman Catholic. We wondered what’s up and found this story from 1999 at the BBC, called ‘The Sins of Nicaragua’s Fathers’.
The case of one woman who has said no has now become a cause celebre in Nicaragua. Exactly a year ago, Zoilamerica Narvaez accused her stepfather of systematic sexual abuse. She is now 33. The abuse, she said, began when she was 11. The allegations would have been shocking under any circumstances. But the fact that Zoilamerica Narvaez’s stepfather is Daniel Ortega, the former president and Sandinista revolutionary hero, made it into a national scandal.
Zoilamerica Narvaez’s claims of abuse by Ortega rocked the nation
Zoilamerica’s case was front page news again in Managua on the first anniversary of the day she made them public. I met her in the thinktank where she now works and she talked of the pain and difficulties of the past year. Perhaps the most painful thing, she said, was the fact that her own mother had denounced her. But despite that, she had no regrets about what she had done. “I had to do it, because I had to get him to stop. He was still abusing me by telephone,” she told me.
But the case was not investigated at the time because Ortega had parliamentary immunity that he would not relinquish. Later, after he had stacked the courts with cronies, the case was thrown out.*
The BBC report continues:
The Sandinista revolution once promised equality for women. Now, many women have left the Sandinista movement to campaign separately against violence and sexual abuse.
Sofia Montenegro, a writer and political analyst, told me that she believes the roots of Nicaraguan sexual violence go deep into the country’s history and culture. “Every mestizo society,” she said, “began with an act of rape.”
And the rape continues.
*On March 4, 2002, Nicaragua’s new government accepted an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights commendation to reach a “friendly agreement” with Zoilamérica Narváez. It was tacit admission that the state had indeed violated her rights by denying her access to justice. That the commission admitted her suit, heard her testimony and proposed such a settlement was in turn tacit acceptance of the truth of her accusations. Zoilamérica made the following declaration just before going to Washington to testify before the commission.