MANAGUA – A group of women on Tuesday delivered to the Nicaraguan government thousands of signatures collected in Europe by Amnesty International to demand the restoration of therapeutic abortion in this Central American country.
The signatures were turned over at the offices of the governing Sandinista party by leaders of the Strategic Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion and accepted by a representative of President Daniel Ortega.
The group of women handed over a sample of the 37,000 signatures and also another sample of 6,000 postcards sent in by AI activists acting in solidarity with Nicaragua.
“We hope that President Ortega takes measures ... to comply with the recommendations of international entities that have ordered the Nicaraguan state to adjust legislation regarding abortion to be able to save women’s lives,” one of the group’s leaders, Wendy Flores, told Efe.
Flores said that in Nicaragua women had died because “abortion (is) prohibited, (and) by being denied access to health services” and she accused the government of not releasing data about such deaths.
“We hope that the government, with its spirit of solidarity and respecting Christian (behavior), as it says it does, decriminalizes therapeutic abortion to save the lives of a lot of women and so that more children are not orphaned,” Mayte Ochoa, also a leader of the group, told Efe.
Amid the 2006 electoral campaign, which Ortega won, the Nicaraguan Congress heard the petitions of the local Catholic and Protestant churches and prohibited therapeutic abortion, which had been permitted under the Penal Code for more than a century in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
That decision was criticized by the physicians’ association of Nicaragua, women’s groups, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and the European Union, which demanded a broader discussion of the matter.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Court has yet to rule on a 2007 legal challenge to the constitutionality of the abortion ban. EFE