The domestic and international response to the 2006 abortion law reform in Nicaragua has gone largely unnoticed. This paper considers the 2006 Nicaraguan abortion law reform by looking at the situation in the country, with special attention to women’s rights, in particular, reproductive—and, more specifically, abortion—rights. The reform eliminates all forms of therapeutic abortion in the country with a penalty of up to three years in prison. The paper shows that the reform is unrepresentative of the attitudes and opinions of much of its civil society members, namely, women’s organisations. Further, by analysing the interviews conducted with various women’s organisations in the country, this paper reveals the diversity of the women’s movement in Nicaragua. Next, the political motivations behind this reform are visited through a historical perspective. Kruk looks at the reinstated president and his incentives for passing the law that imposes serious limitations on women’s rights in contrast to his Sandinista regime of the 1980s that encouraged gender equality and promoted the advancement of women’s concerns. Important political factors have contributed to this reform, such as the Catholic Church, sexual education and political pacts. In this paper the contemporary abortion debate is used as a lens through which to reveal and understand the contradictions and nuances in the Nicaraguan women’s movement and, ultimately, to shed light on the nature of the Nicaraguan social landscape in general.

HIVOS - Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking
The Power of Civil Society: Working Paper Series
The Power of Civil Society Working Paper Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Kruk, K. (2010). Rights, politics and power: the struggle over the 2006 abortion reform and the women’s movement in Nicaragua (No. 5). The Power of Civil Society Working Paper Series (Vol. 5). Retrieved from