By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MANAGUA, April 9, 2008 ( – The Finnish government, following the practice of its Scandinavian neighbors, is pressuring Nicaragua to legalize abortion during a visit that will determine if Finland will continue its $16 million annual aid package to the country.

During his recent visit to Nicaragua to “evaluate” the state of the country, the Finnish minister of Exterior Cooperation and Trade, Paavo Väyrynen, made his desire clear: legalize abortion.

“We are aware of the legislation that you have in Nicaragua to restrict abortion,” he told the Managuan daily El Nuevo Diario on April 2. “When your Minister of Exterior Relations visited us, we talked to him about the laws that are typical of all countries regarding therapeutic abortion, and how they are a basic human right of the woman, and important for the health of pregnant women and children.”

“We think that the legislation in Nicaragua is very strict, and affects the human rights of the woman and the quality of life of children, and for that reason we think that we have a justification for discussing this topic with the government of Nicaragua,” he added.

Väyrynen did not address the issue of the health of children who die as a result of the abortion procedure, nor did he cite any international treaty establishing abortion as a “right”.

Väyrynen made it clear that he was not at all sure if the aid package would continue. “It’s a controversial topic. It’s positive for donating countries to hold a discussion with respect to it, to influence basic progress, but on the other side, there are some negative aspects that we need to discuss. And we are now deciding the levels of direct support in the budget for each country. The future is something that we are going to discuss. I still don’t know if we will continue.”

Finland’s thinly veiled threat against Nicaragua follows on the heels of a recent decision by Sweden to cut off aid to the country, which followed months of tension over Nicaragua’s decision to apply criminal penalties to all abortions in 2006 (except for medical procedures to save a woman’s life), a measure that was overwhelmingly ratified in Nicaragua’s new penal code in 2007.  Although Sweden did not cite Nicaragua’s abortion law in its decision, it was widely seen as a punishment for violating the pro-abortion standards of the European country.

Representatives from Scandinavia and other European countries have also expressed concern to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who has consistently defended the law (see LifeSiteNews coverage at

Nicaragua’s “Women’s Network Against Violence” (RMCV), a pro-abortion feminist group, applauded Väyrynen’s statements. “We feel that his declarations are a window of opportunity so that we can again put the topic on the national agenda,” said Ruth Marina Matamoros, a Network spokesman, in a separate interview with El Nuevo Diario.  She added that the statement was an “open call” by “international jurisdictions” to legalize abortion in the country.

Related Coverage:

Excerpts from “Democracy is Realized in a Parliamentary System”: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega

Nicaraguan President Denounces International Media for Campaign Against Country’s Anti-Abortion Laws

Sweden Cuts Aid to Countries that Oppose its Pro-Abortion Stance

EU Threatens to Withdraw Aid to Nicaragua if Pro-Life Law Remains