184805 Defending against abortion restrictions across borders: Fighting the abortion ban in Nicaragua

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 8:45 AM

Karen Padilla, MD , Ipas Central America, Managua, Nicaragua
Roe v. Wade is still settled law; however, the number of abortion restrictions in the US is increasing. Restrictive abortion laws are not only an affront to women's human rights, but also result in death and injury to women. This is one presentation in a proposed panel that will illustrate the tragic impact of abortion restrictions from national, regional and international perspectives and the work of advocates to advance reproductive rights in restrictive environments.

In October 2006, Nicaragua became one of only four countries in the world to prohibit abortion without any exceptions. The National Assembly voted unanimously to eliminate therapeutic abortion from the Penal Code, which had been permitted for more than 130 years. The complete ban on abortion negatively affects Nicaragua's most vulnerable women, resulting in unnecessary deaths, health complications, and suffering for them and their families.

This presentation will depict the stories of women and their families who have suffered because of the abortion ban as documented by Ipas Central America. In the year following the ban, Nicaragua experienced a 100 percent increase in indirect obstetric deaths. In several of these cases, the woman's death could have been prevented with a therapeutic abortion.

The panelist will also describe efforts in Nicaragua to reverse the ban and bring the harm of the law to the attention of decision makers and the general public. Through video, brochures, television and radio, reproductive rights activists are raising awareness of the ban's tragic impact.

Learning Objectives:
Contribute to a global movement to defend against abortion restrictions with clear examples from outside the U.S. of the harm to women’s health and lives when abortion is restricted Advocate for U.S. policies that support reproductive rights with a priority on women living in the global south, whose health and lives are jeopardized by U.S. abortion restrictions

Keywords: Abortion, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Senior Program Associate with Ipas Central America and have been working in Nicaragua to increase access to abortion services and, since 2006, to advocate against the abortion ban. I did my medical training in Mexico before returning to Nicaragua to work for the Ministry of Health, where I was responsible for the National Maternal Health and Family Planning program. I hold a Masters degree in Sexual and Reproductive Health from the Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN). At Ipas, I am also responsible for conducting training events, coordinating the monitoring and evaluation of hospitals and health centers where Ipas is working to improve service delivery quality.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.