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Nicaragua: “pro-life” a cruel misnomer

February 26, 2010

AP photo/ Esteban Felix

A woman in Nicaragua has a pregnancy growing inside her.  She also has cancer growing inside her.  Who or which is more important?  Shocking the world, the answer has been that both the cancer and the pregnancy are more important than the woman, who is bound to fall gravely ill or possibly lose her life at the expense of both.

You may have heard by now about this case in Nicaragua being heard around the world. In Nicaragua is illegal and criminalized under ALL circumstances, and the consequences of this oppressive law have been devastating for women.  This case is about a single women, but it’s also about the human rights of all women.

Back in July I posted about Nicaragua’s total abortion ban, which was enacted in 2006.  Amnesty International released a report this summer, publicly condemning Nicaragua’s failure to protect the human rights of women with such a law.

Michelle Goldberg, author of The Means of Reproduction, (which I highly recommend, btw) has an excellent piece in the American Prospect on this issue.  As Goldberg points out, this alarming trend toward human rights abuses of women is neither new or suprising.  And we are seeing it happen elsewhere. 

Just last week we learned that, most likely, Kenya will have a clause in its new constitution codifying that life begins at conception.  So what happens when a Kenyan woman with cancer gets pregnant then, hm?

Let’s hope the international media surrounding this tragic case will be about more than just sensationalizing abortion…it will be about the human rights of one woman and the human rights of all women, and galvanized momentum to push change in a big way.

  1. March 2, 2010 2:19 am

    I agree this is horrible. Pro-life sites say that it would not be necessary to abort the baby and that for this reason pro-choicers are misusing this tragic situation for theri political cause. I would think that, even if the woman doesn’t require an abortion, it may still be illegal in Nicaragua to treat her with chemo cause that will endanger the child. I honestly don’t see how this is saving any lives at all. Rather, it is giving up two lives for some kind of lousy excuse of “pro-life” policy.

  2. Helen Goatley permalink
    March 10, 2010 4:17 pm

    What about the woman or man in the womb? Do they not have any rights? No-one can have any doubts that life begins at conception – because if not interfered with, the developing baby continues to grow, and either a baby girl or baby boy is born. The womb now becomes an exceedingly dangerous place to be!

    • Jessica Mack permalink*
      March 10, 2010 7:41 pm

      Helen, I understand what you’re saying, but it’s simply not true that “no one can have any doubts” about when life begins. That is the interminably unanswerable questions, and one that has a whole host of answers depending on what vantage point you have. But actually it is moot! It has been the precedent, according to international human rights treaties which most countries have ratified, that the rights of an individual, living, breathing human (that is a woman — whether pregnant or not) is the life that must be protected. You say the womb is an exceedingly dangerous place to be… just look at the news from around the world: for women, the WORLD is an exceedingly dangerous place to be! Governments should be doing their utmost to protect the human rights of all its citizens, which absolutely include their women, without whom, the family, community, and national economy will surely fall apart.

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