In El Salvador and Nicaragua, a complete abortion ban is creating a maternal healthcare crisis that neither government is prepared to handle.
Young girls, victims of rape and incest, are forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term. The law makes no exceptions, even for girls under the age of 14 who are the victims of statutory rape.
“Every woman should have the right to choose,” says Magaly Quintana, director of the Nicaragua chapter of Catholics for the Right to Choose. “But if you didn’t want to have this pregnancy, if you were violated, you certainly shouldn’t have the decision made for you.”
These young girls will become mothers, and the government is ill prepared to offer services to benefit them.
“There is no government support,” says Diana Aguilar, a psychologist who works with teen mothers. “In Managua, there is a public hospital, but besides that, there is no support for young mothers.”
In El Salvador, women and doctors are serving prison sentences for seeking or providing illegal terminations. There is an arm of the police force dedicated to discovering these lawbreakers and prosecuting them. Meanwhile, rape and gang violence are on the rise.