Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos has signed into law a ban on all abortions, even in cases when a woman’s life is judged to be at risk.
Previous legislation from a century ago allowed an abortion if three doctors certified that the woman was in danger.
Abortion was a central issue for November’s presidential election in mainly Roman Catholic Nicaragua.
President-elect Daniel Ortega once favoured abortion rights but changed stance after re-embracing Catholicism.
Mr Bolanos signed the law in the presence of Roman Catholic bishops and Protestant evangelist leaders.
The new legislation would help protect the right to life enshrined in the Nicaraguan constitution, a statement on the presidency’s website said.
The law abolished abortion rights “which allowed the daily execution of innocent children in their mother’s womb, in open violation of the Constitution which protected the unborn child”, the statement said.
Nicaragua already had strong anti-abortion laws, with women and doctors who take part in abortions facing prison sentences of up to six years.
But in October the national assembly unanimously approved the new ban.
The timing of the vote was opposed by Nicaragua’s medical association and representatives from the United Nations and European Union, who warned that the debate had become politicised ahead of the election.
Doctors and women’s rights campaigners also argued that the change in the law would increase maternal deaths and infant mortality.
I am not sure how I feel about this. Sometimes you find that countries go to the extreme on certain issues. There is no in between and no reasoning with the leader, once he has made up his mind. There are good and bad points for each side, but in this case it doesn’t matter, this matter does not seem to be negotiable.