Nicaragua set to ban all abortions

Nicaragua is set to become the fourth country in the world to ban abortion in all circumstances, even rape and incest.

A bill banning abortionin all circumstances has been sent to Nicaraguan President Eduardo Bolanos after the country's congress passed it unanimously on Thursday.

If the president signs the legislation, Nicaragua will become just the fourth country to outlaw all abortions, joining El Salvador, Chile and Vatican City.

The bill overturns an earlier law that allowed abortion if three doctors certify that the mother's health is at risk.That exemption was also used to end pregnancies from rape and incest.

Womens' groups in Managua say they will seek a court injuction to block the bill, if the president signs it into law. Bolanos has spoken out against abortion and has proposed increasing penalties for women who have them, as well as for medical personnel who carry them out.

It's unclear if he'll sign the legislation because the bill does not include increased penalties. Illegal abortions in Nicaragua currently carry a six-year jail term, and Bolanos wanted this increased to 10 to 30 years.

Thelegislation passed despite appeals from the European Union and the United Nations to delay a vote until after the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Even the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front, which has favoured abortion rights in the past, voted for the legislation.

The party's presidential candidate, Daniel Ortega, is thought to be wary of offending socially conservative voters as he campaigns to win his first election since the Sandinistas left office in 1990.