By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MONTEVIDEO, April 30, 2008 ( – Representatives of seven different religious groups in Uruguay have made a joint declaration supporting president Tabaré Vázquez’ promise to veto legislation to decriminalize abortion.

The religious groups include the Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Churches, and Baptist, Mennonite, and Pentecostal groups.

The signers denounced “false opposition between the good of the mother and the good of the unborn child” and observed that “the two goods do not exclude each other, but rather are essential for one another.”

Uruguay already has a liberal penal code in relation to abortion.  Abortion in Uruguay is not penalized in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger, rape, or severe economic hardship.

However, legislation under consideration by the nation’s legislature would allow first-trimester abortions for virtually any reason (see previous coverage at Uruguay President Tabaré Vázquez, an obstetrician, has stood against his own party by promising to veto the legislation if it is passed.

Along with its condemnation of abortion decriminalization, the collective letter advocates a legal reform that will minimize punishments received by mothers and increase those given to doctors and others who actually carry out the abortion.  It also advocates the creation of crisis pregnancy centers to help pregnant women in need.

In the face of newly-legalized “homosexual unions” in Uruguay, the joint statement included a reminder to Vazquez that adoption should not serve the interest of special interest groups, but rather the true interests of the child.  

The state, wrote the representatives, “has the obligation to oversee the right of the child to receive a healthy education in an environment that guarantees him the necessary conditions for emotional, psychological, and moral development, over and above the demands and interests of those who request an adoption.”