The president is in favor of life. We have internalized truth, the teachings of faith, of Christianity, said Rosario Murillo August 2. Murillo is Ortegas campaign manager in the upcoming elections, and also his wife. Her comments were reported in Managuas El Nuevo Diario, which recounted similar statements by prominent Catholic bishops.
Nicaragua is one of a tiny handful of countries that ban abortion under all circumstances, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Women obtaining abortions face up to two years in jail, and abortion providers can be sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Nicaragua has a very high maternal death rate170 per 100,000while the average in the region is 99 per 100,000. Many of these deaths are due to illegal abortions done under unsanitary conditions.
Days before Murillos statement, an Amnesty International delegation visited the country to press for legalization of abortion in cases of the mothers health, rape, or incest. They asked to meet with the five presidential candidates of the countrys main political parties in the November elections. While none of the candidates favors lifting the abortion ban, Ortega, running on the Sandinista National Liberation Front ticket, was the only one to refuse.
During the November 2006 presidential elections, representatives of the FSLN and other bourgeois parties in Nicaraguas National Assembly tightened restrictions on the right to abortion, which at the time was allowed for a few medical reasons.
The fight for womens right to choose became an issue in Nicaragua after the FSLN-led revolution in 1979 that overthrew the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship. Women played a leading role in the revolution and entered more deeply into the workforce and politics. By the mid-1980s growing numbers saw the ban on most abortions, carried over from the Somoza era, to be in contradiction with the revolutions goals of ending exploitation and inequality. A public debate opened.
The FSLN government at the time refused any change in the law. Ortega explained why at a 1987 meeting marking the 10th anniversary of the Sandinista-led national womens organization, covered by Militant reporters in Nicaragua at the time.
Ortega sought to rationalize this position by pointing to the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolutionary war and its impact on Nicaraguas small population. The ones fighting in the front lines against this aggression are young men, he said. One way of depleting our youth is to promote the sterilization of women in Nicaraguajust imagine what would happen thenor to promote a policy of abortion.
The problem is that the woman is the one who reproduces. The man cant play that role, Ortega continued. Some women, he said, aspiring to be liberated, decide not to bear children. A woman who does so negates her own continuity, the continuity of the human species.
This stance was one registration of the FSLN leaderships growing abandonment of the revolutionary governments proletarian course in the early years following the overthrow of Somoza. The workers and farmers government had begun to take far-reaching measures in the interests of the producing majority. By the mid-1980s, however, the FSLN leadership began retreating from mobilizing working people to fight for their interests. Instead, it relied more and more on alliances with sections of the capitalist class. The current FSLN leadership has sought to carve out for itself a place in capitalist ruling circles, and to use its political influence to expand lucrative business interests as well.
FSLN leaders have allied with figures in the Catholic Church hierarchy, including some like retired Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo who were staunch opponents of the revolution in the 1980s. Obando y Bravo was even invited this year to open the celebration of the 32nd anniversary of the triumph of the 1979 revolution.
We are very happy that both the evangelical and Catholic churches and the state closed rank in defense of life, said Monsignor Bismarck Carballo, another outspoken opponent of the revolution.
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