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Guatemala declared pro-life capital of Latin America

Members of the Catholic and Evangelical churches and conservative sectors participate in a demonstration against abortion in Guatemala City on Sept. 2, 2018, as the Congress is scheduled to vote on September 4, 2018, a bill to further criminalize abortion. Guatemala only allows abortions in cases where the mother's life is deemed to be in danger.
Members of the Catholic and Evangelical churches and conservative sectors participate in a demonstration against abortion in Guatemala City on Sept. 2, 2018, as the Congress is scheduled to vote on September 4, 2018, a bill to further criminalize abortion. Guatemala only allows abortions in cases where the mother's life is deemed to be in danger. | JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images

The international pro-life movement achieved a significant victory last week in Guatemala. On Wednesday, March 9, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei celebrated the Ibero-American Congress for Life and Family (CIVF) proclaiming his nation the “pro-life capital of Latin America.”

Joined by his cabinet, members of the Guatemalan Congress, religious leaders, and a large international delegation, Giammattei vowed to protect life from conception to natural death and promised to fight for families in his nation.

In conjunction with the ceremony, Giammattei also unveiled a monument in the presidential palace and declared that March 9 would henceforth be known as the National Day of Life in Guatemala.

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Guatemala’s designation as the “pro-life capital of Latin America” comes at a pivotal time for the international pro-life movement, as many countries in the region are rethinking their abortion laws. For example, in early 2021, Argentina’s government legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and in September 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down pro-life laws in two states. Most recently, in a February 21 ruling, Colombia’s high court legalized abortion through the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Thus, Guatemala’s decision to embrace and champion the pro-life values of its people is significant. Just this week, President Giammattei complained that countries like Guatemala often face pressure from the United States and other Western nations to expand legal abortion and adopt gender ideology as a condition of receiving certain forms of international aid and assistance. Giammattei’s decision to resist cultural imperialism is a remarkable display of courage. Last fall, he courageously added his country to the Geneva Consensus Declaration, joining 35 other countries in asserting that there is no international right to abortion and that abortion should never be promoted as a form of family planning. (Conversely, President Joe Biden withdrew the United States from the declaration in January 2021.)

In conjunction with the festivities at the palace, the Ibero-American Congress for Life and Family hosted the “International Summit of Pro-Life Organizations.” The summit brought together leaders from across Ibero-America as well as 75 representatives from pro-life organizations in the United States, including Family Research Council (FRC). These meetings were held alongside CIVF’s annual gathering of pro-family, pro-life organizations from across Latin America and Spain.

As part of the summit, I hosted a panel with leaders from Students for Life, National Right to Life, Global Life Campaign, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Americans United for Life. The topic of the panel was challenges facing the pro-life movement. During my remarks, I argued that a lack of a biblical worldview and apathy toward the Bible’s teaching on life are additional challenges facing the pro-life movement. I exhorted the delegates to continue fighting for life and encouraging pastors within their sphere of influence to preach the whole counsel of God’s Word, including how it relates to the issue of abortion.

FRC was able to equip attendees of the summit with resources that apply a biblical worldview to a wide range of relevant issues, including the sanctity of human life.

FRC’s Quena Gonzalez participated in a panel discussion on how to advocate for pro-life policies. Quena encouraged the delegates to be motivated by Micah 6:8, which instructs believers to “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with our God. As Quena explained, “Our love for God motivates us to advocate for justice. Our love of neighbor motivates us to advocate for policies that allow all Americans, not just Christians, to thrive. And our love for the governments whom we seek to influence — the administration, members of Congress, etc. — leads us to see in each of them the imago Dei, the image of God, and to speak the truth to them in love.”

Speakers at the CIVF’s sixth annual meeting included President Giammattei, Shirley Rivera (president of the Congress of Guatemala), Luis Lam (ambassador of Guatemala to the United Nations), Angela Gandra (Brazil’s secretary of the family), Michael Farris (president of Alliance Defending Freedom), and Valerie Huber (president of The Institute for Women’s Health). The CIVF was founded in 2017 in response to the growing need to engage government and policy leaders in Latin and Central America on issues that affect life and family.

Huber, who helped spearhead the Geneva Consensus Declaration during the Trump administration, praised President Giammattei for signing it last October. By joining the declaration, Huber noted that Giammattei “reminded the world that Guatemala has the sovereign right to implement policies consistent with their own national laws and cultural context without external pressuring and meddling… from other countries, international bodies, or from outside special interest groups.”

The CIVF’s meeting concluded after hearing remarks from Mario Bucaro (Guatemala’s foreign minister), Gerardo Amarilla (Uruguay’s deputy minister of environment), and other Latin American leaders. The event concluded with CIVF releasing the Guatemala 2022 Declaration which affirmed the family as foundational for the flourishing of societies in Latin America and stated the organization’s intent to continue engaging political and religious leaders in the region on policies related to life and family.  

While those of us in the United States await the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, we should be grateful for the courageous leadership of leaders around the world such as President Alejandro Giammattei. Following the official ceremony and statue unveiling on Wednesday, I had an opportunity to personally thank Giammattei on behalf of Family Research Council for his leadership in positioning Guatemala as a leader in the international pro-life movement. Giammattei’s stand for life and family in the face of intense pressure deserves our admiration and respect. May courage breed more courage, and may all of us who care about the dignity and value of the unborn look to Guatemala’s example.

I joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss the historic declaration of Guatemala as the “pro-life capital of Latin America.” You can listen to the interview here.

**To see where other countries stack up on abortion around the world, see our map and publication.

Originally published at the Family Research Council. 

David Closson is the Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

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