Abortion Abortion

So, what happens when a country bans abortion outright? Guess guess guess. C’mon. Guess.

If you guessed “unintended consequences of the new policy adversely affect women’s health care almost immediately,” well, you must have already seen the Amnesty International report about Nicaragua. Our friends to the south completely banned abortion in July 2008, and the results are extraordinary.

There are no exceptions. Nada:

The current law makes no provision for pregnancies where serious complications arise which require urgent and decisive treatment, such as a termination, in order to prevent the death or serious damage to the health of the pregnant woman or girl.

Health professionals who provide information about or who carry out abortions in Nicaragua can be sent to the slam, according to the AI report. The thing is, though, that such conditions don’t just affect abortion. It affects a whole range of medical treatment for women. Doctors are scared out of their minds about taking on risky pregnancy cases because, if there’s a complication or a miscarriage, they might be held criminally liable.

The new legal framework disempowers doctors and health professionals by making it harder, if not impossible, for them to make timely decisions about how to treat complications during
pregnancy. Doctors have now to consider the legal implications of administering medically indicated treatment to pregnant women for conditions unrelated to the pregnancy in case the effects of the treatment place them at odds with the law.


…The impact of criminalizing abortion in all circumstances extends far beyond this. It also restricts the provision of medically indicated treatment, such as cardiac surgery, which may, despite the best efforts of medical staff, end in the termination of the pregnancy.

Support for an outright prohibition of abortion == support for the rotting away of quality health care for women. Generally. I bet you four dollars that the incidence of obstetric fistula skyrockets in Nicaragua in the next few years.

The report is here. Thanks to Feministing. [Update: The Feministing blog is no longer a going concern. Link goes to their archives.]

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