September 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Uruguay’s lower legislative house, the Chamber of Deputies, last night approved legislation to eliminate criminal penalties for abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In a tense vote that was delayed until almost midnight, the measure passed by a single vote majority.
The legislation will now move to the Senate, which already approved a more liberal pro-abortion measure earlier this year, and is expected to pass the current bill. President José Mujica, a former Marxist revolutionary, has pledged his own support for the measure, making its ultimate passage a virtual fait accompli.
The Chamber of Deputy’s narrow approval of the bill all but ensures that Uruguay will become the first Latin American country, apart from Cuba, to legalize the killing of the unborn at the national level. Although Mexico City approved its own abortion-on-demand law in 2007, the rest of Mexico has firmly resisted pressure to do the same, and 17 states have passed right-to-life amendments.
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The Uruguayan law will require an interdisciplinary committee of at least three professionals to examine a request and give information about the risks of abortion, as well as alternatives such as adoption or maternity support. Then, following the consultation, the woman will have to wait five days before having her unborn child killed by a physician, a procedure that will no longer be penalized under law, although it is not expressly legalized.
Fr. Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, lamented the decision as a “sad day for Uruguay and for Latin America, which for the most part has stood strong against pressure from powerful Western governments to cut their birth rates to a level with which wealthy elites will be more comfortable.”
“The pressure was so great in the debate over this bill that some legislators could not in good conscience submit votes and allowed substitutes to vote in their stead,” noted Boquet. “This appears to be reminiscent of the battle in the U.S. over health care ‘reform’ in 2010, where arm-twisting and false promises were the order of the day. It’s a corruption of the democratic process, and not a victory for anyone.”