By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
MANAGUA, September 13, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com)--The Nicaraguan congress voted today overwhelmingly to renew the penal code's punishment of all abortions, striking down an amendment that would have created an exemption for "therapeutic abortion."
Although there was concern that the governing Sandinista party might renege on its 2006 campaign promise to support the anti-abortion penal code, the party kept its promise and voted to maintain the law. The three votes against were from the far-left Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS), a group that split from the original Sandinista party in the 1990s
The resounding victory followed threats by pro-life groups in the country, including the Catholic bishop's conference, to "take to the streets" in protest, as they have done in the past, if anti-abortion provisions were removed from the penal code (see recent LifeSiteNews.com coverage at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/sep/07091102.html).
The new penal code's article 144 states: "Whoever causes an abortion with the consent of the woman will be sanctioned with the punishment of one to three years in prison. If it is a medical or health professional, the principal penalty will also contain the penalty of removal of the license to practice for two to five years."
The new code also punishes women who carry out abortions on themselves, stating that "a woman who intentionally causes her own abortion or consents to an abortion carried out by someone else, will receive a penalty of one to two years in prison."
Tougher sanctions are provided for those who perform abortions without consent or use violence or intimidation in the process, including prison sentences of up to eight years.
The Nicaraguan constitution, like almost all of the constitutions of Latin America, recognizes the right to life from the moment of conception. However, most Latin American countries provide exceptions in their penal codes, exempting certain types of abortion from punishment. The penal code of Nicaragua, along with that of El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, penalizes all abortions, although medical procedures to save a woman's life that might threaten the life of the fetus are not penalized.
The original law was also put into effect during a review of the penal code in 2006. After many years of pressure from international pro-abortion organizations to liberalize abortion in the country, the congress decided to do the opposite, and abolished existing exceptions in the code for what has become known as "therapeutic abortion" -- abortions done for ostensible health purposes.
According to the Managuan newspaper La Prensa, a spokeswoman for the pro-abortion "Women's Network Against Violence" denounced the vote, claiming that the country had "gone back a century". She told La Prensa that they wouldn't bother appealing the law to the nation's Supreme Court because they know that the court's judges are all from the two main parties of the country, which voted to maintain the penal code.
Related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Bishops Denounce Influence of International Abortion Lobby in Nicaragua
Nicaragua: Bishop Condemns "Therapeutic" Abortion
Sweden Cuts Aid to Countries that Oppose its Pro-Abortion Stance
Pro-Abortion Group in Nicaragua Caught Aiding Rapist Escape Criminal Investigation
Nicaraguan President Signs into Law Bill Banning All Abortion Despite UN Intimidation
By Samantha Singson
NEW YORK, September 13, 2007 (C-FAM.org) - The US delegation to the UN sharply scolded a top UN official this week for perpetuating the falsehood that there is a new UN mandated global goal related to "sexual and reproductive health." The exchange came during the Executive Board meeting of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The US also criticized UNFPA's promotion of abortion.
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid was presenting UNFPA's strategic plan and its proposed global and regional programs. In her report Obaid claimed "The target on universal access to reproductive health under Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 paves the way for further progress to improve the health of women, reduce maternal and newborn deaths, expand contraceptive choice, and protect reproductive rights." The US representative interjected that there is no new global target on reproductive health and that the only thing that could generate one was a resolution of the General Assembly.
The Millennium Development Goals were first negotiated in 2000 by more than 150 heads of state, the largest such gathering in history, and included eight broad goals none of which included the controversial issue of "reproductive health," a term that is frequently used by UN agencies to promote abortion. Pro-abortion radicals, including UNFPA, tried to get a new goal on "reproductive health" negotiated by heads of state in 2005 but they were defeated. Since then, they have tried to get a ninth goal or at least a target as part of an existing goal but continue to be defeated. Their defeat has not stopped UNFPA and others from continuing to claim that such a new target exists. Governments around the world are being told such a target exists and are being asked to change their laws accordingly, most recently in the Philippines.
The US also complained to Obaid about UNFPA's promotion of abortion and asked Obaid for a clarification. Obaid claimed UNFPA was neutral on abortion and only tries to prevent "unsafe abortion." "UNFPA does not speak for or against the legalization of abortion," said Obaid. UNFPA, however, has a history of promoting the legalization of abortion most recently when the agency intervened when Nicaragua's National Assembly banned all abortion. UNFPA, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other UN agencies directly intervened to stop the law which eventually was passed unanimously by the Nicaraguan Assembly.
In contrast to the US position, the Swedish delegate urged Obaid to "make sure that sexual and reproductive health and rights remain squarely on the agenda." A final decision by the country delegations on the UNFPA strategic plan and programming will be made when executive board meetings wrap up this week.
On Friday, the United States announced that it would suspend its contribution to UNFPA for the sixth year in a row. The US first suspended funding in 2002 upon receiving evidence that UNFPA was complicit in China's draconian one child policy.