Human Rights Watch calls on Nicaragua’s government to protect women’s human rights to life, physical integrity, health, non-discrimination, privacy, liberty, information, freedom of religion and conscience, equal protection under the law, and the right to make decisions about the number and spacing of children. Regardless of the legality of abortion, Nicaragua must immediately guarantee women and girls access to emergency obstetric care, including post-abortion care and interventions necessary to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity.

In the following section, we identify some essential steps.

To the President of Nicaragua

  • Publicly support women’s right to immediate unhindered access to safe abortion where the intervention is needed to protect the pregnant woman’s health or life, and support legislative reform to facilitate women’s access to voluntary and safe abortion services.
  • Raise public awareness of the availability of emergency obstetric services at public hospitals and clinics, including, explicitly, the provision of humane post-abortion care regardless of the illegality of abortion.

To the Health Ministry of Nicaragua

  • Devote adequate resources to the dissemination of and training on the national norms on emergency obstetric care.
  • Proactively investigate and sanction all health personnel who do not make all efforts to fully implement the Ministry’s guidelines on emergency obstetric care. Sanctions should include the suspension or revocation of medical licenses for repeat offenders.
  • Systematically collect and analyze data, and provide regular public updates on the number of complaints filed for the delay or denial of services in the public healthcare system.
  • Proactively investigate and document the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity on a case-by-case basis.
  • Ensure that all women know and understand that they will be provided with humane post-abortion care at public and private health centers and hospitals, regardless of the illegality of abortion.

To the National Assembly of Nicaragua

  • Enact laws that allow women to have access to voluntary and safe abortions. These measures should include the repeal of penal code provisions that criminalize abortion, especially those that punish women who have had an induced abortion and those that punish doctors for providing abortion services.

To Donors and United Nations agencies

  • Advocate for Nicaragua to remove legal restrictions on abortion and to ensure women access to safe and legal abortions.
  • Provide funding for the documentation and publication of the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in Nicaragua.
  • Expand funding for reproductive health related programs in Nicaragua. Support the information campaigns of government and nongovernmental organizations seeking to educate women about their right to access contraception and abortion.