By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MONTEVIDEO, November 5, 2008 ( – Uruguayan legislators in the nation’s Chamber of Deputies narrowly approved the legalization of abortion today, in a 49-48 vote, after twelve hours of contentious debate.

The law received the approval of the nation’s lower legislative house despite growing opposition to abortion in Uruguay, as well as a firm promise from the nation’s president to veto any such measures.  Pro-life groups have cried foul during the process, claiming that the tally in an earlier vote was altered, and that many procedural violations have been committed.

The bill will now pass to the nation’s Senate.

Paulina Sada of the Fundacion Vida, a Spanish pro-life organization, denounced the attempt to legalize abortion in Uruguay, calling it “a flagrant attack against democracy” that “demonstrates an unjustifiable totalitarianism to advance its measures,” according to the Catholic news service ACI Prensa.

“Uruguay doesn’t want abortion, as the polls indicate, which show a sharp decline among supporters of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy.  Now it is a clear minority,” she added. “So why commit so many illegal acts?”

Although Uruguay is the most socially liberal nation in South America, public opinion has turned sharply against abortion in recent years, falling from 68% in favor of legalization in 2005, to 61% in 2007, and finally to 49% in a recent poll.

Unborn children in Uruguay are largely protected from abortion by the nation’s criminal code, which prohibits the procedure in all cases except conceptions arising from rape, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

Today’s vote occurred with the strong presence of pro-life protesters.

Previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

Archbishop: Excommunication for Uruguayan Legislators who Vote for Abortion

Socialist Legislators Fight over Abortion Legalization Bill in Uruguay

Uruguayan Senate Approves Bill Legalizing Abortion

Uruguayan Senate Ties on Pro-Abortion Legislation