Speaking of abortion as a human rights issue, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights has recently released a landmark statement condemning Nicaragua's therapeutic abortion ban. Calling the ban a threat to women's lives, as well as a violation of their physical and psychological integrity, the statement points out that "therapeutic abortion has been internationally recognized as a specialized and necessary health service for women, its ultimate purpose being to save the life of the mother when threatened during pregnancy." It also highlights the fact that criminalizing a life-saving medical procedure such as therapeutic abortion "hinders the work of health care professionals, whose mission is to protect the lives of their patients and provide them with adequate treatment."
Right on. The Inter-American Commission's statement echoes what Nicaraguan women and their doctors have been saying since the beginning: banning abortion violates the human rights of women. The concerns raised in the statement are well-founded, since the ban has already stripped at least one Nicaraguan woman of her right to life. But most significantly, the Commission's statement places the Nicaraguan ban in the context of a wider pattern of abortion-related human rights violations taking place across Latin America (outlined in a recent post by Luisa Cabal of the Center for Reproductive Rights). The Inter-American Commission's job is to monitor human rights in the Americas, and its willingness to take on the abortion issue represents huge progress for women across the region (North and South, my compañeras in the U.S.). Finally, our right to reproductive health is being seen as a fundamental part of our humanity! Let's hope it's the beginning of a new trend.