Nicaragua to Ban Abortions - With Sandinistas' Support

| Thu Oct. 26, 2006 3:30 PM EDT

Here's news to squash whatever vestigial remnants of good feeling ageing lefties (like me) might still harbor for Nicaragua's once-revolutionary Sandinistas: they're now supporting legislation to ban all abortions, even in cases where a woman's life is in danger. The law, expected to win parliamentary approval today, imposes prison sentences of up to 30 years for women who have abortions and for the doctors who perform them.

Not that current Nicaraguan law makes it easy to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Ipas, a US-based reproductive rights group, reports that only 24 women and girls have been allowed legal abortions in Nicaragua in the last three years - including a nine-year-old rape victim - leaving some 32,000 woman to abort their pregnancies illegally.

Sure, the Sandinistas have long since shed many of the egalitarian ideals that won them so much support at home and abroad when they overthrew the US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979. But this is an especially depressing rowback from a party that used to trumpet the advancement of women's rights as one of their great victories.