Congress Votes To Legalize Abortions In Uruguay

Very narrowly, a bill was approved by the lower house of Uruguayan lawmakers to legalize abortions within the first 12 weeks.

Besides Cuba and Mexico City no other place in the Roman Catholic region has such liberal abortion laws, BBCreports.

After 14 hours of debate, Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies voted 50-49 on Tuesday night, moments before midnight. Many lawmakers on both sides of the debate left because in good conscience could not vote alongside their parties, USA Todayreported.

President Jose Mujica said he would approve the law if the Senate approves the changes to the law. In December, the Senate approved a much more liberal version of the abortion measure.

Abortion in the majority of Latin America is only allowed in cases of rape, when the woman’s body is threatened or if the fetus is greatly malformed.

Currently in Uruguay, women who have abortions and those who assist with the abortion will face prison time. In the nation, only cases of rape or when the life of the woman is in peril merit abortions.

Physicians in 2006 at the School of Medicine, University of the Republic in Montevideo, found that 29 percent of maternal deaths in the nation were due to unsafe abortions, NPRreports.

The measure would allow abortions per request of the woman after she has seen a physician, psychologist and a social worker who would provide her with information on any risks or alternatives, like adoption.

After requesting an abortion, the woman would have to wait five days before having the procedure.

Similarly in 2008, another abortion measure was debated and approved by the Congress but then vetoed by President Tabare Vasquez.

Opinion polls express most people in the country approve the measure, although opposition remains strong.