The Nicaraguan legislature voted yesterday to outlaw all abortions, making it the third country in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw abortion without exception. The legislation was approved 52-0, with nine abstentions and 29 legislators not voting. The legislation must still be signed by Nicaraguan president Enrique Bolanos, who is strongly against abortion rights and favors increasing penalties for illegal abortions; without his veto, the ban will take effect in 30 days. Nicaragua currently allows abortion if a woman's life is in danger or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Legislators may have feared opposing the bill so close to the upcoming election on November 5 because of the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which pushed heavily for the passage of the legislation, according to Reuters. While church leaders were able to sit in on the vote, women’s rights activists were physically barred from entering. Hundreds of protestors gathered outside the National Assembly the day of the vote, and legislators were asked by the international community to consider the ramifications for women’s human rights.
"We are outraged that leaders who claim to stand for the poor and marginalized would vote in favor a law that condemns women to die like this. Women's live[s] are worth more," said Marta María Blandón, director of Ipas Central America, an organization working to end unsafe abortion practices around the world. It is estimated 32,000 women undergo illegal abortion every year in Nicaragua, most unsafe, according to the New York Times. According to Ipas, the Nicaraguan Women’s Autonomous Movement plan to file a suit challenging the constitutionality of the extreme ban.
Media Resources: Reuters 10/27/06; New York Times 10/27/06; Ipas press release 10/26/06; Associated Press 10/26/06
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .