Amnesty International Declares Nicaragua's Abortion Ban Torture

Amnesty International is battling a ban on abortion in Nicaragua, a predominantly Catholic country. Citing the fact that the ban effectively forces victims of incest and rape to carry babies to full term and give birth, the human rights organization is claiming that the measure may violate the United Nations Convention against Torture.

"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.

AI has documented many cases of young girls victimized by rapists or family members who are then forced to give birth, resulting in a skyrocketing suicide rate among teenage girls.

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

President Daniel Ortega won the 2006 election in part due to the fact that he supported the ban, which went into effect in July, 2008. The ban is enforced by sending women who get abortions—along with the medical workers who assist them—to prison.

"What alternatives is this government offering a 10-year-old pregnant as a result of rape?” asked Gilmore at the press conference. "And a cancer sufferer who is denied life-saving treatment just because she is pregnant, while she has other children waiting at home?"