GUATEMALA CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Guatemala’s Congress approved a bill this week that bans same-sex “marriage” and increases punishments for abortion, though the country’s conservative president says that he plans to veto it.
Guatemala lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the “Protection of Life and Family” bill on Tuesday, with 101 of 160 voting in favor. Just eight voted against the law.
Under the bill, women who decide to kill their unborn children could face between five and 10 years in prison, up from a maximum of three. For doctors who conduct abortions, the penalty could be as high as 25 years, except when the mother’s life is deemed to be threatened.
The legislation also explicitly outlaws so-called same-sex “marriage,” which Guatemala does not currently recognize, and bars the promotion of “sexual diversity” and gender ideology in schools. Teachers may not instruct students that “anything other than heterosexuality is normal,” according to the bill.
Guatemala’s Congress passed the pro-life, pro-family measure on “International Woman’s Day,” a global holiday frequently used by the left to promote abortion.
But President Alejandro Giammattei, who touts himself as pro-life, announced Thursday that he intends to veto the bill, saying it violates international conventions that Guatemala has joined and the country’s constitution, which ensures the right to life from conception.
“I have spoken with the president of the legislative body to ask that Congress shelve this law, and, if it is not, I have decided that if this law reaches my office it will be vetoed,” the president said in a video broadcast, according to Reuters.
Giammattei had hosted an event with evangelical pastors the previous day proclaiming Guatemala the “pro-life capital of Latin America.”
“I want to clarify that this initiative was not sent by the executive,” he said about the bill on Thursday. “We cannot agree, despite the fact that Guatemala has been declared the Ibero-American Capital for life.”
Lawmakers will discuss the future of the legislation next week in Congress, where they need a two-thirds majority of 105 votes to override a president’s veto.
The passage of Guatemala’s life and family bill comes after multiple Latin American countries have decriminalized abortion in recent months. A law in Pope Francis’ native Argentina that took effect early last year legalizes elective abortion until 14 weeks of pregnancy.