Uruguay Passes Law Legalizing Abortion

Lawmakers in Uruguay have passed a law that would effectively legalize abortions, making the small Latin American country the second nation in the region to do so.

On Tuesday, leaders in Uruguay's Chamber of Deputies voted to pass the law legalizing abortion by just one vote, 50-49. There were several local reports of lawmakers forgoing the vote citing conflicting interests between their faith and conscience. The votes were still cast but were done by replacements.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica declared that he would uphold the law if the country's Senate approved the newly passed measure.

Under the new law women would be granted the right to obtain a legal abortion anytime during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It would also permit abortion in the event of rape or incest up to the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The law would decriminalize late-term abortions should the mother's life be at risk or if the fetus is determined to be too deformed to survive after birth.

Pablo Abdala, a member of the National Party which was opposed to the new law, has come out and publicly denounced the law calling it a violation of human rights, and has promised to endorse a popular referendum that would overturn the law.

Despite the contentious political fight over whether or not life should be preserved, a recent poll conducted in Uruguay suggested that the majority of the public is in favor of the move.

The survey, conducted earlier this month, revealed that 52 percent of Uruguayans supported the legalization of abortion, while 34 percent surveyed opposed the legalization of a abortion. It is unclear to what extent those supporting abortion favored it, and up to what period they believed it should be allowed and in what circumstances.

However, the survey by CIFRA consulting firm, was only conducted on a very small sample size of just 802 people.