Groups Petition Inter-American Human Rights Commission on Behalf of Pregnant Nicaraguan Denied Cancer Treatment


This article provides updated information to an earlier piece  on this case published this weekend and available here. The earlier version used the alias "Amalia," the spelling for which has been corrected here to "Amelia" in keeping with that used by the coalition.

Member organizations of the Strategic Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion in Nicaragua (including the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, the OB-GYN Society, the New Family Association (ANFAN), and international organizations such as the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and IPAS Central America), have formally asked the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (ICHR) to require the government of Nicaraguan to take urgent measures to protect the life of Amelia (an alias), a 27-year-old Nicaraguan woman who is being refused a therapeutic abortion by the health care system despite the fact that she needs urgent treatment involving chemotherapy and radiation.

Amelia, pregnant and mother of a 10-year-old girl, was diagnosed with cancer that has metastasized in her brain, lungs and breasts.

Even though the treating physicians concluded that the patient requires an abortion to initiate chemotherapy and radiation, Amelia has been hospitalized since January 29th and under Nicaraguan law can not have an abortion, so can not receive any kind of treatment to stop the cancer.

Under these circumstances, notes a statement by the coalition peitioning the ICHR:

"Amelia is in imminent danger of losing her life, given the impossibility of accessing an abortion. Under current Nicaraguan law, women in need of therapeutic abortions to save their life or protect their health are in fact, sentenced to death. Additionally, in this case, her minor daughter would be orphaned."

Between 1870 and 2006, therapeutic abortion was a right to which Nicaraguan women were entitled when their life or health were at risk. In October of 2006, the National Assembly passed a law criminalizing therapeutic abortion occurring under any circumstance.  Since then, women’s mortality derived from unsafe abortions and other causes related to ailments existing prior to the pregnancy or aggravated by it has risen significantly, according to the coalition.

Various human rights bodies and civil society organizations have made specific recommendations to the government of Nicaragua urging it to amend the law and protect the human rights of its women. Among them are the UN Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ECOSOC), the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.  But the Nicaraguan government, in alliance with powerful Catholic and political interests, has refused to revisit the law.

The coalition behind the current peition to the ICHR expect a decision within a few days demanding the Nicaraguan government take urgent measures directed at saving Amelia’s life.

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