Monday, October 08, 2007

The cost of Catholic absolutism

Most countries which ban abortion allow exceptions on medical grounds - for example, where continuing a pregnancy would result in a severe risk to the life of the mother. Not Nicaragua. Last year, the heavily Catholic country imposed a total ban, with no exceptions, even when the mother's life is in danger. Doctors performing an abortion face up to three years in jail, and women seeking one up to two years. The results have been utterly predictable: since the ban was imposed, at least 82 women have died of perfectly preventable causes. According to Human Rights Watch's report, Over Their Dead Bodies: Denial of Access to Emergency Obstetric Care and Therapeutic Abortion in Nicaragua, women are now afraid to seek care for complications during pregnancy - and doctors are afraid to give it - for fear that they will be accused of soliciting or performing an abortion.

This is the cost of the Catholic Church's absolutist position on abortion. And like any policy which denies basic medical care, it is tantamount to murder.