By Meg Jalsevac

MANAGUA, February 9, 2007 ( – Representatives from the European Union are increasing pressure on the government of Nicaragua to reverse its recent law which unilaterally forbids abortion under any circumstances. According to a report from the Catholic News Agency, the EU representation has threatened to withdraw economic assistance to the country if the abortion law is not reversed.

Nicaragua’s new abortion law was unanimously voted in by the Nicaraguan Legislature in October, 2006 and signed into law by then President Enrique Bolanos the following month. Nicaragua’s new president, Daniel Ortega voiced his support of the pro-life law in his election campaign.

Marc Litvine, the EU representative to Nicaragua, said that the EU regards legalized abortion as “linked to aid programs against poverty and to the rights of women”. He expressed hope that “the new government will be capable of opening the debate and discussing it outside the passion of the electoral season.”

According to an interview published in Managua’s El Nuevo Diario newspaper, Litvine said that the EU is “concerned” about the recent law. Litvine also accused the supporters of the law of pushing it through in a “hurried” fashion in the days leading up to the election.

Opponents of the pro-life law have argued that it was used as a platform for electoral candidates. The United Nations, organizations such as Human Rights Watch and various feminist groups have condemned the law arguing that it will lead to more clandestine abortions which will, in turn, lead to the deaths of more women. Several organizations have said that they will challenge the constitutionality of the law, calling abortion a “fundamental human right.”

Litvine commented on the new government and its support of the pro-life legislation saying, “That’s where I see one of the contradictions of the new government; it claims to be progressive, very modern, and it is going backwards because for us [the pro-life law] is a step back.”

Nicaragua’s previous abortion law had a loophole which allowed for the killing of the unborn child if the life or health of the mother was determined to be in danger. The ambiguity of the “health” clause in most countries around the globe has eventually led to practical abortion on demand. Nicaragua’s previous law also allowed the child to be killed in utero if she was conceived through rape.

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