by Steven Ertelt
June 11, 2007
Montevideo, Uruguay (LifeNews.com) — Activists in the South American nation of Uruguay have begun another campaign in an attempt to legalize abortion there. Like most counties in the region that are strongly Hispanic and Catholic, Uruguay prohibits abortions in virtually all cases exception when a woman’s life is in danger or she is a victim of rape.
Abortion advocates launched their latest campaign after news surfaced that a 20 year-old woman was criminally charged for having an illegal abortion.
Lawmakers who are sympathetic to their cause have introduced a bill removing the nation’s pro-life protection for unborn children but it likely won’t become law.
The Uruguay Senate voted down a proposal in May 2004 17-13 that would have legalized abortion after the government’s lower house approved it. Should such a measure get out of the nation’s legislature, President Tabare Vazquez has promised to veto it.
If approved, the legislation would have legalized abortion for any reason during the first three months of pregnancy.
Rafael Sanseviero, a former Communist Party legislator, and a leader of the pro-abortion campaign told Reuters he and his associates have started a new web site to advocate their cause.
"We felt that people needed a place to express their indignation over the injustice done to this young woman," he said of the woman in the illegal abortion case.
He said about 3,500 people have signed a petition to legalize abortion including writer Eduardo Galeano and singer Jaime Roos
Although the contemporary pro-life community opposes attempts to jail women, instead focusing on the abortion practitioner, the 1983 Uruguay abortion law puts women who have illegal abortions in prison for up to nine months. Anyone who does an abortion faces up to two years in jail or as much as six years if the abortion kills the woman.
Abortion advocates claim that the illegal state of abortion leads to tens of thousands of such abortions in the country each year, and that women often die as a result.
But pro-life groups point to the women who have died from legal abortions and they say abortion is dangerous whether legalized or not.
During the 2004 battle, local pro-abortion groups received the support of Catholics for a Free Choice, a U.S.-based organization that claims to represent thousands of Catholics who back abortion. Former CFFC president, Frances Kissling, traveled to Uruguay and spoke before the Senate vote.
"Most Spanish speaking countries have strong Judeo-Christian values and protect unborn life," Magaly Llaguno, the director of Vida Humana Internacional, said.
Llaguno fears that if Uruguay approved abortion, other Latin American countries would follow, Observers from several nations were on hand for the vote.
The only Latin American nations where abortion is legal are Cuba and Guyana and legislators in Mexico City recently voted to legalize abortion there.