Nicaragua's new abortion law
Jean Raber November 18, 2006 - 2:07pm
The AP reported that incoming president Daniel Ortega supports the measure.
AP also said that before Bolanos signed the bill, abortion was legal only if a panel of three doctors agreed a mothers life was in danger. Catholic News Service, however, reported that rape and incest were also considered legal grounds for abortion in
Bolanos, according to the AP, had also sought stiffer sentences for doctors who performed abortions, and a 30-year prison sentence for women who had them.
CNS said that Church leaders had sought a 20-year prison term for both doctors and women.
However, the current prison term of six years for mothers and doctors remains on the books.
I wonder what will happen to women with ectopic pregnancies, which seems to be a gray area in this law. Hard to know how many women this might affect, though 3,000 Nicaraguan women each year might be in the ballpark. (Obstetricians estimate about 2 percent of pregnancies end in ectopics. Live births in Nicaragua, according to 1999 stats, are approximtely 164,500. Two percent of the live birth rate would be 3,290).
Babies cannot survive ectopic pregnancies. Women whose ectopic pregnancies are not terminated run several risks. The woman may miscarry before the tube can rupture. This will involve only severe pain and damage to the affected tube that could affect future fertility and increase the risk of more ectopics. Or the woman's tube will rupture as the baby grows. This will result in more severe pain, destruction of the tube and the risk bleeding to death.
Is this the kind of respect-for-life policy we want to see in the U.S.? I'm just askin' ...
UPDATED Nov. 18: Joe notes in the comments that the Church allows treatment for ectopic pregnancies. Can anyone confirm that this is how Nicaragua's secular law will be construed also? If so, I'll delete my post. Otherwise, I think my question is valid and ought to raise some concerns about how well secular laws can reflect the sum total of church teaching on sanctity of life.
UDATED Nov. 19: Patrick has more recent estimated stats in the comments. Based on his comment, I re-checked and corrected my math. My stats are based on 1999 demographics, which show a population of 4.7 million and a birthrate of 35 per 1,000.