Nicaragua: Children compelled to bear children
A report released today by Amnesty International calling for an end to a ban on abortions in Nicaragua has shocking statistics about the rising death rate among pregnant women in the Central American country. So far this year, 33 girls and women have died in pregnancy, compared to the same period last year and Amnesty blames changes to the Penal Code that expands restrictions on the medical profession. Under stricter provisions, doctors face prison terms for treating a pregnant woman with malaria, cancer, HIV/AIDS or a cardiac condition if the treatment is contraindicated in pregnancy. Girls and women have been thrown in jail for having miscarriages. Victims of rape and incest are forced to carry the fetus to term, and physicians who are caught peforming abortions are imprisoned. Only 3 percent of the world's countries have a total ban on abortion, according to the rights organization.
After returning from a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua, Kate Gilmore from Amnesty International termed the situation a "human rights scandal that ridicules medical science," at a press conference in Mexico City. She said one Nicaraguan doctor told the Amnesty group she dreads cases of anencephalic pregnancy, in which the fetus cannot survive, because the patient must nevertheless continue with the pregnancy. Gilmore said:
"There’s only one way to describe what we have seen in Nicaragua: sheer horror. . . Children are being compelled to bear children. Pregnant women are being denied essential including life-saving medical care."
Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega refused to support a campaign from rights groups in Nicaragua - including girls and women who spoke up - to get the draconian legislation off the books. During that country's civil war of the 1980s, women filled the ranks of Ortega's Sandanista army, fighting and dying alongside the men. It seems in Nicaragua women's lives matter only on the battlefield.