By Hilary White

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, November 26, 2009 ( – The South American country of Uruguay faces what pro-life advocates have identified as a “crucial turning point” with their national elections on Sunday November 29th.

Uruguayan affiliates of Human Life International (HLI) have asked for prayers in the lead-up to the country's elections, saying that a win for the conservative National Party will block the push from the left and from international population control groups to legalize abortion. 

Despite a strong political left in Uruguay, abortion has remained illegal in the country and is punishable by up to 9 months in prison. Those committing abortions face a possible two years in prison.

But the new presidential candidate for the ruling Broad Front party, Jose Mujica, has promised not to veto legislative attempts to legalize abortion.

Some polls have shown that the major parties are neck and neck, but a recent Angus Reid poll found that the socialist Broad Front remains well ahead of all rival parties with 44 percent support. The National Party was second with 35 percent.

National Party candidate Luis A. Lacalle has warned that Mujica, a former leader in the violent Tupamaru guerrilla that attempted to install a Cuban-inspired socialist state in the 1960s, will push the country from a stable democracy toward socialism.

The elections of 2004 brought a strong majority government by the Broad Front, a leftist coalition of socialists, communists and social democrats. The new president, however, Broad Front leader, Tabaré Vázquez, has held fast against efforts to legalize abortion.  

 In 2009, Vazquez, a Catholic oncologist, vetoed a bill that proposed to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Senate had voted 17 to 13 to legalize abortion for the “health” of the mother, a tactic that has created virtual abortion on demand in several other countries.

At the time he vetoed the attempt, Vazquez said, “Our laws cannot ignore the reality of the existence of human life in the gestation period, as scientific evidence clearly shows.

“It's more appropriate to look for a solution based on solidarity, giving a woman the freedom to make other choices and thereby save both her and the baby.”

But Vázquez is barred by the constitution from seeking a second consecutive term and since 2005, the party has seen new influences shifting the party further to the left.

Human Life International said, “It is a thousand times easier to prevent legal abortion than it is to reverse it once it has taken root.” HLI organized a large rally in the capital, Montevideo, to demonstrate that public opinion remains against legalization of abortion.