House Commission Approves Abortion Bill
On September 10th, the special commission created to analyze various versions of voluntary interruption of pregnancy bills in the House of Representatives, approved a bill that will be considered for a full House vote on September 25th, where 50 affirmative votes are needed to pass.
If it passes, it will be sent to the Senate for its final approval.
The bill approved by the commission was based on a proposal by the Independent congressman Iván Posada. While the law has been touted as a “decriminalization“ law, in truth it states that penalties for the “crime of abortion” set out in a 1938 law will not be applied if the woman complies with a series of steps in a health institution affiliated with the National Integrated Health System. The second article of the project states: “The interruption of a pregnancy will not be penalized, and as a result the articles 325 and 325 bis of the Penal Code will not be applicable, in the case that the woman voluntarily compiles with the requirements that are established in the following articles, and realizes [the interruption of her pregnancy] before the 12th week” (Second Article)
The requirements are that a woman, in the case of an undesired pregnancy, goes to a health center and expresses the factors that lead to her pregnancy and her reasons for wanting to end it. The doctor will derive her to an interdisciplinary team that will meet on the same or the next day. The team will be made up of a gynecologist, a psychiatrist, and a social health professional. It will inform the woman about maternity support, adoption possibilities, and the inherent risks involved in the interruption of a pregnancy. Afterwards, the woman will have a required five days to “reflect” about her decision and, if she still wants to abort, the health institution will immediately coordinate the procedure.
The entire procedure, as well as the informed consent of the woman, will be registered in her clinical history.
In the event in which a pregnancy is the result rape, abortions may be preformed up until 14 weeks of pregnancy. If the pregnancy represents a “significant risk” to the women’s health, or if there is a birth defect that is incompatible with life in the fetus, abortions may be preformed without a time restriction.
The proposed bill establishes that health professionals who are contentiously opposed to abortion should advise their primary health institution of their opinions, such that their objection be applicable in all of the health institutions in which the have the privilege to practice.
Institutions whose “ideals” are opposed to abortion – like the Círculo Católico and the Hospital Evangélico – will not be obligated to practice abortions, but they must derive any woman who seeks the procedure to another institution that will preforms it.
Types of Procedures
Although the bill does not define a specific type of abortion procedure, it specifies that the Ministry of Public Health should keep a registry of all the pharmacological drugs with abortive properties that it prescribes. This leads to believe that other pregnancy interruption methods will not be demanded. If this is indeed the case, the law would restrict women’s right to choose other existing abortive possibilities.
Access to abortion would be limited to natural or legal Uruguayan citizens, and foreigners that demonstrate at least a year of residency in the country. If they do not have the required consent of their legal guardians, minors and women declared mentally unable will go before a judge, who will determine if their decision is voluntary, spontaneous and conscientious, in which case he or she will approve the procedure.