On Tuesday night, the Chamber of Deputies, Uruguay’s lower house, voted to legalize abortion during the first twelve weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. In the end, it all came down to just one vote, as 50 members voted in favor of the bill, while 49 voted against it. Some members of the Chamber even had others vote for them to protect their consciences. The bill will now go to the Senate, where the version will likely be approved, given that the Senate has already voted in favor of an even more unrestricted version of the law. President Mujica supports the bill and plans to sign it into law.
Here is a look into the provisions of the bill:
-In order to have an abortion, a woman must appear before a three-person panel of a gynecologist, psychologist, and social worker to defend her plan.
-That panel will then discuss alternatives to abortion with the woman.
-Girls under eighteen years of age must either have parental consent or a judge’s order.
-The father will be consulted if the mother concurs.
-A five-day waiting period is imposed after the panel meeting before an abortion can be procured.
-Private and individual health care providers are not required to perform abortions if asked to do so.
A survey referenced in Fox News suggests that the majority of Uruguay’s citizens support legalized abortion.
A survey this month showed 52 percent of Uruguayans would vote to legalize abortion if the question were put to the people, while 34 percent would vote against it. The survey of 802 people nationwide by the CIFRA consulting firm had a 3.4 percentage point margin of error.
While the new bill does not exactly provide abortion on demand, as seen in other countries around the world, it is a large step in a different direction for a country whose current laws imposes a prison sentence on both women who have abortions and those who help them terminate their children. If the measure indeed passes the Senate and is signed by the president, Uruguay will join Cuba as the only other Latin American country to permit abortion other than in cases of rape or to protect the life of the mother. The idea of abortion in Latin America goes against the church teachings of the largely Catholic population.