Will Uruguay’s President Veto Bill That Would Prevent Maternal Deaths?

Emily Douglas

Uruguay's legislature has passed an abortion liberalization law. Will President Tabaré Vasquez ignore widespread unsafe abortion in the country and veto the bill?

Last week, Uruguayan activist Alejandra Lopez-Gomez reported on the Uruguayan House of Representatives’ passage of a landmark sexual and reproductive health bill that would decriminalize abortion to the twelfth week of pregnancy; the Senate approved the bill Tuesday.  Sixty-three percent of the Uruguayan population supports liberation of abortion laws, but President Tabaré Vasquez has vowed to veto the legislation.

The Guttmacher Institute points out that "Globally, abortion rates are roughly equal
in countries where the procedure is legal and where it is illegal–26
and 29 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age, respectively.
However, the health consequences vary greatly; abortion is generally
safe where it is broadly legal and mostly unsafe where restricted.
Worldwide, clandestine abortion remains one of the leading causes of
maternal death and injury."

And, indeed, illegal abortion in Uruguay is unsafe abortion — as Jill Filipovic points out on Feministe, illegal abortion in Uruguay accounts for 29 percent of all maternal deaths, more than twice the average worldwide. Jill also points out that American "pro-lifers" have engaged in letter-writing campaigns to protest abortion law liberalization, despite staggering numbers of women dying of clandestine, unsafe procedures.

Jill concludes:

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Next time a “pro-lifer” tells you he care about women and doesn’t want
to see them harmed, killed, maimed or jailed, ask him why his most
vocal representatives were writing letters to Uruguay, in the name of
the “pro-life” movement, in order to uphold that exact reality.

We’ll have updates for you from Alejandra and our Global Perspectives Latin America correspondent, Angela Castellanos, as the bill moves forward (or doesn’t).

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