Uruguay Senate Considering Legislation That Would Legalize Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
April 29, 2004
Montevideo, Uruguay (LifeNews.com) — Members of the Uruguay Senate are considering legislation that would legalize abortion in the South American country. The bill, if approved, could make the country only the second Hispanic nation in the West, after Cuba, to allow abortions.
The Senate will vote on the "Defense of Reproductive Health" on May 4. If approved, the legislation would legalize abortion for any reason during the first three months of pregnancy, define abortion as a "medical act,’ limit conscientious objection by health professionals, and require all health facilities to provide abortions.
The House has already approved the proposal.
Should the Senate pass the bill, pro-life advocates are counting on Dr. Jorge Battle, the country’s president, to veto it. Battle has already promised Pope John Paul II that he will veto the bill if it is approved.
Abortion advocates are lobbying for the measure and they are receiving the support of Catholics for a Free Choice, a U.S.-based group that claims to represent thousands of Catholics who back abortion.
CFFC president, Frances Kissling, traveled to Uruguay several months ago and spoke before the Senate.
Magaly Llaguno, the director of Vida Humana Internacional says the Senate has postponed the vote once before and pro-life groups say the Senate may defer a vote again. It is in election year in Uruguay and senators may choose to ask voters to decide the issue in a public referendum instead.
No Hispanic country in the Western Hemisphere has legalized abortion, with the exception of Cuba. Abortion is legal in Puerto Rico by virtue of its status as a part of the United States.
"Most Spanish speaking countries have strong Judeo-Christian values and protect unborn life," Llaguno said.
Llaguno said that, during a committee hearing on the proposal shortly after Easter, "observers" from several countries attended.
"It’s very possible that if Uruguay falls to the heavy national and international pro-abortion pressure, other Hispanic countries will follow," Llaguno fears.
Complicating the issue for pro-life leaders is the weak stance of Protestant religious groups.
The Evangelical Waldesian Church of Uruguay said it was not opposed to the pro-abortion proposal. CLADEM, a leading pro-abortion feminist group in Latin America, claims Methodist and Jewish groups there also support legalizing abortion.
Pro-life groups in Uruguay are looking to the United States for help. Three small pro-life groups based in the South American country are fighting the legislation: Asociacion Vivir en Familia, Asociacion Esperanza Uruguay, and Mision Vida para las Naciones. The latter group is headed by Jorge Marquez, a pastor who called on his entire congregation to speak before the Uruguayan Senate.
If the bill is defeated, it cannot be brought up again until March 2005.
Related web sites:
Vida Humana Internacional – https://www.vidahumana.org