Nicaragua Total Abortion Ban Challenged by Cancer Patient

Nicaragua’s total abortion ban is being challenged by a cancer patient who wants to terminate her pregnancy so that she can receive treatment. Doctors at the state hospital in Leon (55 miles west of Managua) have refused to give her medical care because it would harm the 10-week-old fetus. The local paper La Prensa then published the patient’s sister’s request bringing the case to the public’s attention.

Soon after, the Nicaraguan Health Minister Guillermo Gonzalez told reporters that “a government-sponsored medical committee” was studying Amalia’s case. “Unfortunately, it seems that there are political interests behind this,” he said. Leftist President Daniel Ortega used to support limited abortion rights until he found renewed strength in his Catholic faith and backed a 2006 law (that passed right before he took office) banning abortion in all cases even if the woman’s life is at risk. Although the law has been challenged by many as unconstitutional, justices have yet to make a ruling on those lawsuits.

In the meantime, local non-government organizations have petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to make sure Amalia receives access to appropriate care to treat her metastasized cancer.

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