Teenage Girls Are Forced To Give Birth – How Nicaragua’s Abortion Law Is Placing Young Women At Higher Risk

The girls who live at Casa Alianza are between 12 and 17 years old. They often come from violent family relationships where they have been sexually abused.

 

Photographer Anna Tärnhuvud is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From her project ‘Nicaragua Abortion Law‘.  To see Anna’s body of work click on any photograph.

Collaborating Reporter –  Frida Svensson

 

 

 

Four young girls and their babies share a small bedroom at Casa Alianza, a house for young mothers.

 

“I will fight for this law to change, I will never stay quite”

 

Because of the strict abortion law Leslie, 37 years old, almost died of an ectopic pregnancy a few years ago. When she realized that she was going to die all she kept thinking of was her nine years old son and that he could become an orphan. She now wants her story to be told.
“I will fight for this law to change, I will never stay quite”, she says.

 

The scar on Leslie’s stomach reminds her of the pregnancy that almost took her life.

 

Abortion is illegal in Nicaragua. In 2006 the law became stricter and therapeutic abortion was banned when the government made an agreement with the Catholic Church. Pregnancy can no longer be terminated even if the woman’s life is at risk or the fetus is severely deformed.

Since the law passed the number of girls between the ages of 10-14 who are forced to give birth has increased by 48 percent. Young girls and women who are in desperate need of an abortion have no other choice than to put their health and safety at risk through illegal abortion clinics. These pregnancies are often a result of sexual violence.

The risk of dying during pregnancy doubles for women under 19 years of age and quadruple for girls younger than 15, explains a Gynecologist in Managua.  Being pregnant as a child can have major consequences, both physical, mental and social.

 

Carla is 36 years old, she had three abortions in illegal private clinics. She believes that the lack of information and sex education throughout Nicaragua contributes to the level of young women becoming pregnant at young age.

 

“I think of it every day. It feels like God is punishing me for what I did”

 

After Nichole had an abortion at a private clinic she had an infection so severe that she will never be able to have children in the future. I think of it every day. It feels like God is punishing me for what I did, she says.

 

“When I became pregnant, he didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby.”

 

Sophie was abused during her childhood and moved in with her boyfriend when she was only 13 years old. “When I became pregnant, he didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby.” Sophie now lives at Casa Alianza with her four weeks old baby girl. She dreams about finishing elementary school and become a lawyer.

 

Belén became a mother when she was 17 years old. Every day she is struggling to keep up with school, and she misses the life of being a normal teenager.

 

“In the beginning I didn’t even know how to hold a baby, and I’m still learning. I dream of seeing my daughter grow up, go to school and get a better life.” Cielo, 17 years old.

 

 

See also:

Gallery of Photographs

By Anna Tärnhuvud

 

 

 

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