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Nicaragua Abortion Ban Forces Rape, Incest Victims To Give Birth

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In predominantly Catholic Nicaragua, an all-out ban on abortion, regardless of any potential risk childbirth poses to the mother, is drawing fire from Amnesty International (AI), the Guardian reports. AI, in its report, documents many cases of young girls victimized by rapists or family members who are nevertheless forced to give birth, and as a result, the rate of suicide among teenage girls has soared upward, according to the Guardian.

"There is only one way to describe what we have seen in Nicaragua ‑ sheer horror," Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International's executive deputy secretary general, told a press conference in Mexico City. "Children are being compelled to bear children. Pregnant women are being denied essential life saving medical care."

She added: "What alternatives is this government offering a 10-year-old pregnant as a result of rape? And a cancer sufferer who is denied life-saving treatment just because she is pregnant, while she has other children waiting at home?"

According to the Guardian report, Sandinista President Daniel Ortega won the 2006 election by supporting the ban, which went into effect in July of 2008 and punishes women who get abortions, and the medical workers who assist them, with prison.

In May, Amnesty International pushed the Nicaraguan government to adhere to a call from the United Nations Committee against Torture for the policy to be revised.

"The Committee is sending a clear message to the Nicaraguan state: So long as the complete ban with no exceptions is in place, you will be in breach of your international legal obligations to protect human rights," said Widney Brown, Senior Director, International Law and Policy at Amnesty International. "If this complete ban were to stay, women and girls would continue to be at risk of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Such inaction would show a cruel indifference to the physical pain, psychological anguish and lack of human dignity this law causes women and girls in Nicaragua to suffer by denying and thwarting their access to essential medical treatment during pregnancy."

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