Nicaragua's National Assembly unanimously passed a wholesale ban on abortion, yesterday, barring even exceptions for rape and when the pregnant woman's life is threatened. The NY Times reports that the measure, passed with 52 votes, 9 abstentions, and 29 legislators absent, is expected to be approved by President Enrique Bolanos (bo-lawn-yos). (H/T: Passport.) Nicaragua would then join El Salvador and Chile as the only countries in the Western hemisphere to eliminate all exceptions for their bans on abortion.
The Times quotes the former minister of health as explaining, "The [November 5] presidential election is so polarized that the [Roman Catholic] Church saw this as an opportunity to force this issue now." Nicaragua's current law permits abortion only when three doctors agree that the pregnant woman's life is at risk. Since 2002, there have been six legal abortions in Nicaragua, with clandestine abortions estimated to be around 32,000 per year. Currently, women and doctors face six years in prison for carrying out illegal abortions. Far harsher sentences are expected to be added by the new legislation.