Sunday, March 14, 2010

Therapeutic Abortion In Nicaragua, cont.

We've blogged before on the issue of therapeutic abortion and its criminalization in a handful of states, including Chile, El Salvador, Malta and the Philippines.

Women’s Link Worldwide along with other organizations that form part of the Strategic Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion in NICARAGUA -- including the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, the OB-GYN Society, the New Family Association (ANFAN), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and IPAS Central America -- recently requested the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) to order the Nicaraguan government to adopt urgent precautionary measures to protect the life of a 27-year-old Nicaraguan woman and mother of a 10-year-old child. The case is premised on the fact that the Nicaraguan health system refused "Amalia" (or "Amelia" -- the petitioner's pseudonym) both a therapeutic abortion and treatment (chemotherapy and radiotherapy) for metastatic cancer.
On February 26, in an unprecedented move, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, under the leadership of President Luz Patricia Mejia Guerrero (right), apparently adopted urgent precautionary measures on behalf of the petitioner (the text of the measures is not yet available on the Commission's website, see more here, here and here). Women's Link Worldwide reports that in its ruling, the IACHR called on the government of Nicaragua to

  • ensure that the petitioner has access to appropriate medical treatment for her condition, and
  • undertake this treatment in consultation with Amalia and her designated representatives.
In addition, the Commission has apparently required an account of Amalia’s progress within five days. There are some reports that Amalia did finally receive treatment for her cancer, although this cannot be confirmed.

Nicaragua is under considerable internal and external pressure to amend its law. At the recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council that considered Nicaragua's first Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record, the Council recommended that the law be abolished. Nicaragua reportedly took note of the recommendation, but did not accept it or even offer to study it as it did with respect to other recommendations. The Nicaraguan representative countered that the law was a reflection of Nicaragua's sovereignty. In addition, four other human rights bodies -- the Committee against Torture, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women -- have determined that the law violates Nicaragua's treaty-based human rights obligations. Amnesty International has taken up the case, and feminist activists have launched an Urgent Action on Amelia's behalf. The Constitutional Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of the measure.
Stay tuned....

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