Nicaragua: Ban on abortion violates UN Convention against Torture.
Amnesty International has examined both the purpose and the likely consequences of these provisions in the revised penal code in relation to Nicaragua’s obligation to ensure the right of women to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The complete criminalisation of abortion greatly increases the level of pain and suffering endured by many pregnant women and girls, including those who are seeking medical care for complications and those who are seeking a therapeutic abortion. Amnesty International finds that the impact of the ban on abortion in Nicaragua is most acutely felt by:
The denial of access to legal and safe abortion services can cause delays in treatment which pose a threat to the health and lie of Nicaraguan women and girls. The criminalisation of abortion compounds physical pain, fear, depression and stigma. In many cases, the level of suffering may lead to death or suicide. As Amnesty International and other groups have found elsewhere, criminalisation does not mean that no abortions will take place—some women and girls will instead resort to illegal abortion, risking their health and lives as well as the possibility of severe punishment in the process. Doctors who perform abortions could also be subject to punitive measures, including professional, criminal and even religious sanctions. They must either obey the law or fulfil their ethical obligation to save life and to respect the inherent dignity of their patient.
Indeed, the denial of access to essential medical services alone has severe consequences for pregnant women and girls, regardless of whether criminal penalties are imposed. Nicaraguan women and girls who are affected by this law are often in a traumatised state, experiencing severe pain and in fear for their health and lives, even prior to the denial of medically indicated treatment. These women and girls suffer torture and other ill treatment as a direct result of the state’s legislative action.
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