MONTEVIDEO, January 3, 2012 ( – Uruguay’s senate passed a bill in late December, by a vote of 17 to 14, that eliminates all penalties for abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill now goes to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, where it is expected to be debated in March.

Under the existing law, abortion is penalized in the nation’s criminal code in all cases, although judges have the discretion of reducing or eliminating penalties under certain circumstances such as rape or when the mother’s life is at risk.


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According to a Reuters report, the abortion bill passed after 10 hours of heated debate between supporters and opponents of the bill.

“We don’t have the right to pass moral judgement by saying that the woman who continues her pregnancy and has her baby is in the right whereas the one who doesn’t, for whatever reason, is in the wrong,” said Senator Monica Xavier, a member of the ruling leftist Broad Front coalition of President Jose Mujica. “We’re not moral censors, we’re congressmen,” she added. 

Senator Alfredo Solari from the opposition Colorado Party countered that, “This bill discriminates against men.”

“How can the law leave the decision to end a pregnancy with the woman alone? What about the man? Instead of promoting responsible fatherhood, with this law we’re saying the man doesn’t matter,” Solari said.

A similar attempt to decriminalize abortion in 2008 was vetoed by then-President Tabare Vazquez, a medical doctor who repeatedly promised to veto any pro-abortion legislation.

Current President Jose Mujica, who controls both the senate and the Chamber of Deputies, has indicated he will sign the bill into law if the legislation passes both assemblies.

Church representatives in the predominantly Catholic country have warned the Uruguayan government that pressure from foreign organizations with a population control agenda are undermining the country’s sovereignty.

A representative of the Family and Life Ministry of the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference told the Senate Public Health committee in early December 2011 that “these days, very few people are ignorant of the existence of international interests in favor of imposing abortion on countries.”

“There are international foundations behind these pressures like the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and many more (…) who see world population growth as a security problem,” said Gabriela López, secretary of the episcopal conference.

Similar initiatives are being introduced in legislatures across the region, noted Lopez.

“Today it is Uruguay’s turn. Sadly, this type of bill is not a local initiative of some legislators but rather one of the strategies promoted internationally by institutions that seek to deceive the people and the legislators, and induce them to approve one thing thinking they are approving another,” Lopez said.

“The true objective of these strategies is not the promotion of women. Adhering to these programs means subjecting ourselves to foreign interests that are increasingly well-known by everyone, and that, in the medium run, only serve to weaken the popular base itself,” she added.


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