October 26, 2006–New York–The Nicaraguan National Assembly voted (52-0) today to outlaw therapeutic abortion in Nicaragua. While abortion in most cases in Nicaragua is already illegal, for over 100 years, Nicaragua's penal code has allowed for therapeutic abortions when a women's life or health is at risk. By removing this exception, Nicaragua will become the third country in the western hemisphere to completely outlaw abortion, joining Chile and El Salvador. Evangelical and Catholic clergy pushed for a vote before Nicaragua's national elections on November 5 to put pressure on incumbents and presidential candidates to support the ban. The legislation has received scant press coverage outside Nicaragua, and parallels a dangerous trend in the US that seeks to erode women's reproductive rights.
MADRE's partner in Nicaragua, Mirna Cunningham, is available to discuss the proposed legislation. A former member of the National Assembly of Nicaragua, a former Minister of Health and Governor of the North Atlantic Coast (the region with the country's highest rates of poverty and maternal mortality and least access to reproductive health services), a former surgeon, and a veteran women's and Indigenous human rights activist, Ms. Cunningham is well equipped to discuss the legislation from a women's human rights and public health perspective. Ms. Cunningham could also address the upcoming elections, including US intervention. Ms. Cunningham is the Director of MADRE's sister organization, the Center for Indigenous Peoples' Autonomy and Development.
To arrange an interview with Ms. Cunningham (in English or Spanish), please contact Irene Schneeweis, MADRE's Media and Public Relations Coordinator, at (212) 627-0444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.