US Lawmakers Urge Uruguay Senate to Vote Against Legalizing Abortion

Several US lawmakers, including Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, sent a letter to the Uruguayan Senate urging them to vote against a bill that would have liberalized Uruguay’s current abortion law. The bill, that the Uruguayan Senate rejected by 17-13 on May 5, would have made abortion legal in the first trimester. The bill also had provisions to promote sex education, contraceptive distribution, and maternal health care services, reports the Associated Press.

The letter, signed by six US Representatives, states that US “courts unilaterally legalized abortion and presented abortion to women as a solution. Because of that misguided action our country has wiped out generations of children and sentenced generations of women to pain and suffering.” It goes on to say, “We have confidence that through your leadership Uruguay will not make the same costly mistake my country did 31 years ago.” The letter defines the legalization of abortion as “the violent murder of unborn children and the exploitation of women through abortion.”

“I am outraged by the recent ploy by some US lawmakers to meddle in another country’s decision to liberalize punitive abortion laws,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Too bad Chris Smith et al do not understand that unsafe, illegal, and botched abortions are causing some 80,000 deaths of desperate women each year, according to the United Nations, and hundreds of thousands of injuries.”

Abortion has been illegal in Uruguay since 1938. Under current law, a person who performs an abortion can be sentenced to up to 24 months in prison. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47 percent of the maternal deaths in Uruguay are a result of illegal and unsafe abortions.

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Associated Press 5/11/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 5/10/04; Inter Press Service 5/7/04

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