Friday, October 27, 2006

Nicaragua bans abortion

Nicaragua has banned abortion - all abortion, even when necessary to save the life of the mother. The message is clear: women's lives and wellbeing are less important than obediance to god. In a country where a third of new mothers are 16 or under and face significant health risks as a result, that is simply monstrous.

Naturally, the ban will really only affect the poor. As the story notes, it is an open secret that the rich send their female relatives to Cuba. So, poor mothers will die so that rich politicians can feel virtuous (while shuffling their own daughters overseas in secret). The sadism and the hypocrisy is breathtaking.


The fact that Nicaragua is holding national elections on Nov 5, and that the conservative government of the moment looks to be replaced by the "orthodox" Sandinista faction led by Daniel Ortega (also one of the two dominant parties in congress), clearly played a role in this. No worries (an the parallel with my earlier post about Lula is worth bearing in mind)--it can and will be overturned once the Sandinistas win, or if one of the less reactionary centre-right parties manages to shoulder aside the old-line conservatives for first or second place. This law is political/moral grandstanding for short term electoral purposes in a country that, thanks to the Nicaraguan revolution led by Ortega and others, brought wimin more rights (including that of abortion) in five years than they had achieved in the previous 100.

BTW--you should have dug a bit deeper and noted the role the Catholic Church is playing in all of this, as well as the Bush administration (which has made no secret that developmental assistance to Nicaragua will be cut off if Ortega and the Sandinistas win). Cold War redux anyone?

Posted by Anonymous : 10/27/2006 05:10:00 PM

I would like to note that the article you linked to spoke of a "...200,000-strong rally in the capital Managua" and as we know you are strongly in favor of democratic choices. I assume that the rally was not made up of purely the rich who wanted to claim virtue but sincere people who believe that taking the life of an born person is murder.

But I agree it is hypocritical for the rich to claim understanding that human life begins at conception and then happily organise the death of your own family. Sadistic and hypocritical is on the dot.

Posted by Muerk : 10/27/2006 06:05:00 PM

anonymous, your faith in the Sandinistas, and in Ortega in particular, appears to be misplaced. He appears to be both reactionary and cynically opportunist on the abortion issue.

Ortega, who was pro-choice as a young revolutionary, has said he has since become a devout Roman Catholic who now opposes abortion.

Ortega headed the socialist Sandinista government of the 1980s and had a contentious relationship with the Catholic church, but he has recently established warm ties with leading church figures in Nicaragua.

The reform was approved 52-0 and had the full support of the leftist Sandinista Front and the backing of a majority of the representatives of the Liberal Party (PL).

Article 165 of Nicaragua's Penal Code, in place since 1891, authorised abortion in pregnancies considered high risk for the mother, provided that the woman gave her consent and that a medical commission of three specialists authorised it.

The reform was requested this month by catholic and protestant leaders and had the support of President Enrique Bolanos, while trade unions, women's organizations, physicians and several NGOs opposed it.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/27/2006 11:37:00 PM

Sadism and hypocrisy has always been a feature of conservatives in Latin America - it's another of those great civilising gifts the church brought us.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 10/28/2006 08:31:00 AM

If anyone has access to the NYT paywall stuff (Proquest is a good way; you'll have it if you're a student; you can get it via your local library too) have a look at the article "Pro Life Nation" about the impact a of a similar law on El Salvador. Not good.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/28/2006 03:40:00 PM

Your points are well taken. I should have been clearer about Ortega's suspect behavior and the split within the Sandinista Party because of it, as well as the spill-over effects of the total ban in El Salvador. I still think that we will see at least a partial repeal if/when the Sandinistas win the presidency and majority in Congress (remembering again that there are two Sandinistas candidates for virtually each seat, as well as two Liberal (conservative) candidates contesting each seat as welll (Note about the Liberal split: it has to do with corruption under Bolanos and his predecessor and identifying with the Somoza class roots of the original Liberal Party).

Posted by Anonymous : 10/30/2006 09:22:00 PM