Uruguayan Socialist Party in Tailspin after Pro-Life President Resigns

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MONTEVIDEO, December 9, 2008 ( - Uruguay’s socialist Broad Front coalition is seeing its prospects for reelection in 2009 diminish after the nation’s president, Tabare Vazquez, resigned his party last week after the coalition pushed through legislation that would have eliminated criminal penalties for abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

Abortion remains illegal in Uruguay and is only non-punishable in cases of rape and incest.

Vazquez resigned from the Socialist Party, a Broad Front member, following his long-promised veto in November of the abortion legislation. The president, who is also a practicing doctor, argued that the government should provide support for pregnant women, rather than paving the way for them to kill their unborn children.

Virtually every Broad Front member voted for the pro-abortion legislation.

Vazquez also declared his intention not to offer himself as a candidate for president in 2009, despite a campaign that continues to promote his candidacy.  He says that despite his conflict with the Socialist Party, he still regards himself as a socialist.

Senator Monica Xavier of the Broad Front lamented the decision, stating to the press that it "isn’t acceptable ... because of what Vazquez means for the party."  She said that, despite the veto, the party "ratifies its complete support for the President."

The conflict within the Broad Front over abortion and other issues has resulted in declining poll numbers as the country moves towards national elections in 2009.

Only 42% of the Uruguayan population currently supports the formerly popular Broad Front, which could make it vulnerable to a coalition of opposition parties in next year’s elections.  Those same parties generally opposed the depenalization of abortion in recent congressional votes.

Vazquez’ decision to veto the portions of the bill depenalizing surgical abortions was congratulated by the Catholic bishops of Uruguay, as well as other defenders of the right to life. 

However, Dr. Ignacio Barreiro Carambula of Human Life International notes that, while Vazquez vetoed the provisions of the bill on surgical abortions, he signed other portions of the bill that include the promotion of abortifacient contraception and the teaching of homosexualist ideology in the public school system, down to the lowest grade levels.

"In the part of this law that hasn’t been vetoed, chemical abortion remains, which is an attack against the life of the recently-conceived child," wrote Barreiro Carambula in a letter to Vazquez.

"The educational standards that this law promotes are based on ideologies that are clearly against the natural law," he continued.  "Secondly, they represent an infraction against the basic affirmation of the positive law of Uruguay on the philosophical neutrality of the government. Thirdly, they infringe on the right of the parents to be the educators of their children.  The parents have the right to choose the education of their children in conformity with their conscience."

The portions referred to by Barreiro Carambula were voted for with almost perfect unanimity, in contrast to the section of the law on surgical abortions, which passed the national congress with a slim majority.

Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:

Uruguayan President Vetoes Pro-Abortion Legislation

Uruguay’s Pro-Life President Receives Support from Seven Major Religious Groups

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