MANILA, June 21, 2013—Months after President Jose Mujica of Uruguay signed into law a bill allowing first trimester abortions, Uruguayans on June 23 will have an opportunity to express their position on the new abortion law when the country holds a referendum that seeks to repeal the abortion law.
At least 25% of the electors vote or about 655,000 votes are needed to have referendum that can nullify the law that waives criminal penalties for abortion in the first 12 weeks of gestation and in the first 14 weeks of gestation in the cases of rape.
A month after he signed the bill into law, Mujica has surprised the world by supporting the voter referendum over the legislation he recently signed. Uruguay became the third nation in Latin America to allow abortion on demand.
Speaking in the vernacular, Mujica said, “It’s an issue that a vote by the people would have to resolve. It’s an issue of conscience, something each one must resolve in his heart of hearts.”
Early this year a whopping 100 percent of doctors refused to perform abortions, making it impossible to implement the country’s new system. Uruguay’s El Diario newspaper also noted at least 30 percent of the country’s gynecologists have refused to participate.
Msgr. Jaime Fuentes of the family ministry of the Conferencia Episcopal del Uruguay has asked for prayers for the success of this initiative.
The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia aired his appreciation to the people of Uruguay and throughout Latin America and expressed support for the prayer intentions called by the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay.
“Defend the first of human rights, the right to life,” said Paglia.
Latin American countries have some of the most restrictive abortion policies in the world. Several countries, such as Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have absolute bans on abortion with no exceptions whatsoever. (Paul De Guzman)