Monday, October 08, 2007

Abortion in Nicaragua: over their dead bodies

Maria discovered she was pregnant. She visited a doctor who told her it was an ectopic pregnancy. Maria visited two women who performed the abortion. It was botched and she died of severe blood loss.

Welcome to the new laws outlawing abortion in Nicaragua.

Since November 2006, 82 women have died 'cos of botched illegal abortions but say women's groups this is the tip of the iceberg.

The religious right got their way aided and abetted by Daniel Ortega, betrayer of womens rights. A living breathing 28 year woman like Maria had her choices and rights subordinated in favour of the foetus. And it's women like her living in abject poverty who are suffering this inhuman law while wealthier women can get around it. If a doctor is caught performing an abortion he/she could get between 2-3 years in prison and the woman could be liable for 1-2 years in prison. One doctor said:

"Many are thinking that instead of taking the risk, it is better to let a woman die"...

Well, it shows where poor women are in the pecking order! But the saddest thing I read in the article is that Maria could have had a legal abortion as her pregnancy was ectopic. Protocols published last December stipulated that a woman with an ectopic pregnancy could indeed have a legal abortion but fear and confusion about this law is rife so it seems there's a "better to be safe than sorry" approach by the medical profession.

Last month there was an assembly vote to uphold this law. Demonstrations were held and many women attended to demand a woman's right to choose while majority voting were elderly men supporters of catholicism (and Ortega, ever the opportunist, voted to uphold the ban). Religion won by keeping women well and truly under the thumb...But women's groups and feminists have taken mass action to fight for a woman's right to choose.

"This is wrong, all wrong. And we are going to fight it all the way"....

It is estimated that 60,000 women die from botched abortions worldwide. In many countries abortion is treated for all intents and purposes as a criminal offence in virtually all circumstances. In Europe this includes the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta and Portugal. Poland has allowed a similar situation to arise. Generally legal terminations only take place in the most extreme circumstances. This leads to a lot of women being forced to travel to other countries such as Spain and Britain to obtain abortions.

It is estimated that 20,000 illegal abortions are performed in Portugal each year. As a result of complications during such operations 5,000 woman have to attend hospital each year and about 100 women have died unnecessarily during the last 20 years. A woman in Portugal is up to 150 times more likely to die from an abortion than a woman living in the Netherlands. In Kenya, 30%-50% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions. And in the States the attack on Roe v Wade continues.

In this country, the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Act is coming up. And the attacks on a woman's right to choose is always there with the likes of MP Nadine Dorries proposing a reduction in time limits to 21 weeks and a "cooling-off" period. Fortunately, she was a defeated but it doesn't stop them and they will continue to attack this Act especially around late abortions. The tactics of anti-abortion lobby include chipping away at the time limits without resorting to an outright ban on abortion. But they never give up as chipping away, and chipping away will eventually leave us with nothing i.e. 24 to 21 to 18 weeks.. where will they stop? Back to the days of knitting needles, broken glass and wire coathangers? You better believe it!

We need to continue the fight for a woman’s right to control her body. We need to fight against the dictates of religious and state morality.

"Not the Church, not the state, women must decide their fate"!

"As early as possible, as late as necessary"!