By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  MONTEVIDEO, November 6, 2007 ( -The Uruguayan Senate narrowly approved a measure to expand access to abortion this morning, 18-13.  If signed into law, the measure will be the first national legislation in Latin America, outside of communist Cuba, to codify a positive “right” to an abortion.

  The bill, which was voted down three weeks ago in a tie vote of 15-15, will allow Uruguayans to obtain abortions as a “right” during the first three months of pregnancy for virtually any reason, and will allow abortions in cases of fetal deformities or threats to the mother’s life in the remaining two trimesters.

  The bill was reintroduced in the Senate as part of a strategy to pass the bill after the narrow loss on October 17th, when two senators were not present to cast their votes, and their alternates either abstained or voted against the legislation. During the current vote both senators were present and voted in favor of the legislation.

  The Archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolás Cotugno, denounced the maneuvering of pro-abortion groups in the country, noting with perplexity that they were able to manipulate the procedures of the Senate to reintroduce recently-rejected legislation so quickly, and lamented the fact that a law of such importance could be determined by the licensousness of just a few senators, according to ACI Prensa.

  The political and cultural environment of Uruguay, the most liberal of Latin American countries, is indicated by the fact that the Senate has already approved other sections of the bill that mandate “sex education” down to the elementary school level, which treats abortion and homosexual sodomy as “rights”.

  Although Uruguayans have protested the measure in recent weeks, an opinion poll last year showed a majority in favor of decriminalizing abortion, which is currently illegal in all cases, although the penalty is eliminated in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. 

  Uruguay is also known for liberal divorce laws and low mass attendance. A high percentage of the population professes no religion at all.

  However, Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez has repeatedly promised to veto any attempt to decriminalize abortions. Although he is a member of the Broad Front socialist coalition that currently controls both the executive and legislative branches and that is generally pro-abortion, Vazquez, an obstetrician, has maintained a firm stance against the law.

  See recent Coverage:

  Uruguayan Senate to Vote Again on Decriminalization of Abortion

  Uruguayan Senate Ties on Pro-Abortion Legislation

  Uruguay Will Vote on Legalizing Abortion Tuesday

  Uruguayans March Against Legalization of Abortion