Nicaragua Overwhelmingly Renews Total Abortion Ban in 66-3 Vote

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  MANAGUA, September 13, 2007 ( Nicaraguan congress voted today overwhelmingly to renew the penal code’s punishment of all abortions, striking down an amendment that would have created an exemption for "therapeutic abortion."

  Although there was concern that the governing Sandinista party might renege on its 2006 campaign promise to support the anti-abortion penal code, the party kept its promise and voted to maintain the law.  The three votes against were from the far-left Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS), a group that split from the original Sandinista party in the 1990’s.

  The resounding victory followed threats by pro-life groups in the country, including the Catholic bishop’s conference, to "take to the streets" in protest, as they have done in the past, if anti-abortion provisions were removed from the penal code (see recent coverage at

  The new penal code’s article 144 states: "Whoever causes an abortion with the consent of the woman will be sanctioned with the punishment of one to three years in prison.  If it is a medical or health professional, the principal penalty will also contain the penalty of removal of the license to practice for two to five years." 

  The new code also punishes women who carry out abortions on themselves, stating that "a woman who intentionally causes her own abortion or consents to an abortion carried out by someone else, will receive a penalty of one to two years in prison."

  Tougher sanctions are provided for those who perform abortions without consent or use violence or intimidation in the process, including prison sentences of up to eight years.

  The Nicaraguan constitution, like almost all of the constitutions of Latin America, recognizes the right to life from the moment of conception.  However, most Latin American countries provide exceptions in their penal codes, exempting certain types of abortion from punishment.  The penal code of Nicaragua, along with that of El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, penalizes all abortions, although medical procedures to save a woman’s life that might threaten the life of the fetus are not penalized.

  The original law was also put into effect during a review of the penal code in 2006. After many years of pressure from international pro-abortion organizations to liberalize abortion in the country, the congress decided to do the opposite, and abolished existing exceptions in the code for what has become known as "therapeutic abortion"—abortions done for ostensible health purposes.

  According to the Managuan newspaper La Prensa, a spokeswoman for the pro-abortion "Women’s Network Against Violence" denounced the vote, claiming that the country had "gone back a century".  She told La Prensa that they wouldn’t bother appealing the law to the nation’s Supreme Court because they know that the court’s judges are all from the two main parties of the country, which voted to maintain the penal code.

  Related LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Bishops Denounce Influence of International Abortion Lobby in Nicaragua

  Nicaragua: Bishop Condemns "Therapeutic" Abortion

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

  Pro-Abortion Group in Nicaragua Caught Aiding Rapist Escape Criminal Investigation

  Nicaraguan President Signs into Law Bill Banning All Abortion Despite UN Intimidation

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