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Uruguay raises the bar for the region on the legalization and decriminalization of abortion.


On December 27, 2011, the Uruguayan Parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill legalizing abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, a step long awaited by women's organizations and other sectors that have supported this proposal for years. The House of Representatives will consider the initiative for final approval, and the public trusts the President of the Republic, Jose Mujica, to keep his promise to not veto this crucial legislation.

The political importance of this proposed law is enormous. Indeed, it is already having repercussions throughout the region, taking into account that most Latin American and Caribbean countries still have laws that restrict access to safe, legal abortion or that allow for the voluntary termination of pregnancy only on certain grounds, which are often not respected by the healthcare providers and judges involved in these cases.

The Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network adds its voice to the chorus calling for the passage of this initiative, which stems from citizens' demands and has entailed a complex process, weathering attacks by fundamentalist and reactionary sectors that refuse to accept that women in all their diversity have rights over their lives and their bodies.

We are pleased to include the following statement on this important development from Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU, Women and Health in Uruguay):

Today, the Uruguayan Parliament began to settle one of the many debts that women of this country are owed, by giving preliminary approval to the bill for the law on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. We applaud the initiative to extend the term of operation for this legislative session in order to address this issue because political delays are paid by thousands of people, particularly women who endure conditions of greater vulnerability. Clandestine procedures cannot be part of the field of public health; medical practices should be regulated and guaranteed by the appropriate authorities and carried out by those persons qualified to provide the safety required.

The debate over this legal change has taken the same time as the process of democratic reconstruction that we began as a society in 1985. Since 2002, the debate has been continuous and has made headlines in the most diverse media. Hundreds of events, workshops and roundtables have been organized throughout the country. Numerous interviews have been held, contrasting the different positions. Media campaigns have been carried out that have involved the vast majority of the population who have taken a favorable stand on the issue, as in few other matters of public debate. What more is needed? Only that the regulations are adapted to our reality and that we have a legal framework that allows the peaceful coexistence of multiple value systems and concepts to which every person has the right. What is a sin for some can no longer be the law for all.

On December 27, 2011, the Uruguayan Parliament took a monumental step in this direction.


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Title Annotation:NEWS AND MEETINGS
Publication:Women's Health Journal
Date:Oct 1, 2011
Previous Article:International Human Rights Day: Laws that Criminalize Abortion Violate Women's Human Right to Health: December 10.
Next Article:Declaration of the social movements assembly.

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