While a central aim in the strategy of the international pro-abortion movement is to exploit Criminal Code exceptions for some abortions, we have received excellent news from Nicaragua. Removing the very old dodge of the “therapeutic abortion” excuse, Nicaragua is about to have the most pro-life law in Latin America.
No Therapeutic Abortions
On October 26, 2006, the National Assembly of Nicaragua voted unanimously (52 in favor, 0 against, with a number of abstentions) to eliminate the exception for “therapeutic abortion” from the Criminal Code. The change becomes effective when signed by the president and officially published. President Enrique Bolanos is expected to sign the legislation since he is strongly opposed to all abortions and has indicated support for this measure.
This means abortion will become illegal in all circumstances. This is a big victory for the pr-life cause. Tens of thousands of people (one estimate was 200,000 people) participated in pro-life march earlier this month in Managua, the nation’s capital, calling for complete protection for the on-born, and an end to any legitimization of abortion. Approximately 290,000 signatures were delivered to the government supporting the change to eliminate the “therapeutic” exception.
The main thrust of the pro-life argument was that the right to life includes the unborn child, and that both mother and child were to be treated equally. “Therapeutic abortion” is a misnomer. It cannot be “therapeutic” to directly kill any child. When medical complications arise, everything appropriate must be done to try to save both lives. Nicaraguan pro-lifers pointed out how therapeutic abortion was a big loophole used to justify abortions in large numbers.
The pro-abortion side has not been silent, and was particularly vociferous in protesting the National Assembly’s vote. Following the usual practice of pro-aborts in circumventing republican self-government, pro-abortion spokesmen have announced they will immediately challenge the change in court.
Nicaragua has been under intense pressure from outside sources to keep abortion legal, including pressure from the UN Nicaragua Country Team and some European donor countries. A letter dated October 20 expressed clearly their opposition to the elimination of the “therapeutic abortion” exception. Seeing an imminent defeat in the Congress, they also offered their support “to promote meetings together to consult, to talk, and to make a thorough and unhurried discussion before a final decision.” The letter was signed by, among others, Mr. Alfredo Missair for the United Nations Development Program, Mr. Pedro Pablo Villanueva for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Ms. Socorro Gross for WHO/PHO, Ms. Debora Comini for UNICEF, Mr. William Hart for the World Food Program, and Mr. Loy Van Crowder for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
One pro-life leader said, “The best thing that has happened is the union of Catholics and evangelicals. United, we have the power! This union will help us win the fight against the international anti-life and anti-family agenda.”
Another Nicaraguan pro-life leader, OB-GYN Dr. Rafael Cabrera, characterized today’s debate in the National Assembly as follows: “…The discussion by the deputies was a real pro-life festival. I heard all the arguments in favor of life and against abortion, describing it as homicide…a crime. They talked about the gift of Life from God, and its inviolability, and that there is no problem [associated with pregnancy] which medical science cannot treat, that the innocent should be protected by the State and we should not return to the times of Herod. The partial-birth abortion technique was described and called a horrendous crime. They spoke strongly against [foreign] diplomats, some of whom were present, saying there couldn’t he any conditioning of loans in exchange for acceptance of anti-life policies. It was emphasized that Nicaragua was free and independent and would not accept any foreign interference that goes against our values and culture.…
They spoke of the power of the Christian faith .…Motherhood was praised, and the ambassadors and international organizations were told not to interfere, and that all of the people who promoted their anti-life programs would he out of work. In addition, it was pointed out that with abortion there follows a policy of family destruction and that the deputies will be watching so that this doesn’t happen in Nicaragua. In the space in the National Assembly set aside for the public, members of our groups were present with signs and pictures of aborted babies, and could he seen on television since the session was transmitted live.”
While all of this is great news, our Nicaraguan friends are very aware that this is just one day of victory. There will he more challenges in the days ahead. Local pro-abortion feminist organizations will fight in the courts. It is taken for granted that they will have strong support from representatives of UN organizations in Nicaragua and several European countries.