The dominant Sandinista party discourse of Nicaragua designates the family as the country’s base social institution, but the prevailing machismo threatens the family’s structure. Men - fathers - leave, either literally as migrant laborers or in the abandonment of their family responsibilities. In order to counteract the men’s socially sanctioned absence, the state deploys a hegemonic expectation of motherhood in the passage of its complete abortion ban, one of the strictest in the world. All forms of abortion, including saving the life of the mother, are banned in Nicaragua and both doctors and women are heavily penalized if an abortion is performed. The denial of this vital health service becomes much more threatening in the context of Nicaragua’s increased maternal mortality and the highest adolescent fertility rate in Latin America. However, this thesis focuses on abortion within the social context of idealized maternity; here, abortion is not simply the removal of a fetus but a rejection of motherhood, a dangerous option to normalize when women are seen as those primarily responsible for the family's well-being. This study draws on seven weeks of fieldwork in early 2016 in Managua, Nicaragua and interviews with sixteen women to advance the argument that the abortion ban is a form of reproductive governance implemented to maintain a hegemony of maternal expectations in order to preserve the family.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Mendoza-Cardenal, Mikaela M., "Forced Motherhood? An Ethnographic Study on State Gender Expectations in Nicaragua" (2016). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 128.