Central America

In her fourth month of pregnancy, 18-year-old Jazmina sought emergency care at a public hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, on Oct. 31, 2006, just one week after the Nicaraguan legislature had voted to ban all abortions. Although she was feverish, bleeding and in severe pain, her doctors had no imaging technology to confirm a miscarriage — and intervening without such proof, even to save the patient’s life, could mean years of imprisonment. Thirty-six hours later, after undergoing two hospital transfers and, finally, ultrasound testing that revealed a detached placenta, Jazmina was taken to the operating room for an emergency cesarean section. But it was too late: Her uterus had already filled with blood, and she went into fatal septic shock. Several days after her simple hillside burial, Jazmina’s distraught husband reflected on the tragedy, saying: “Now I've lost not just our baby, but my whole family.”

Since the late 1980s, Ipas Central America, based in Managua, Nicaragua, has worked to protect women’s health and rights, focusing on ensuring access to high-quality postabortion care throughout Central America.

Ipas Central America works to make safe and effective sexual and reproductive health care available for the women who need it. Ipas Central America also works to position abortion as a human rights issue and discuss how restrictive abortion laws violate international treaties ratified by Central American countries. By incorporating a human rights perspective in university curricula, Ipas Central America and key partners hope to catalyze the formation of a new generation of health-care providers who are respectful guarantors and advocates of individuals’ right to high-quality sexual and reproductive health care.