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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Uruguay senate votes to decriminalize some abortions but veto expected
Eric Firkel at 3:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The Uruguayan Senate [official website, in Spanish] passed a bill [press release, in Spanish] Tuesday that partially decriminalizes abortion [JURIST news archive], but it is unlikely the bill has the support needed to override a veto promised by Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez [BBC profile]. According to the draft law, a mother may terminate her pregnancy during the first 12 weeks to prevent risks to her health, birth deformities, economic hardship, or other family problems. The bill passed the House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] last week and will be sent to the president for signature or veto within the next 10 days. While the measure passed the Senate by a vote of 17-13, 19 votes in the Senate are needed to overcome a veto. BBC News has more.

Last November the Uruguayan senate passed a similar bill [JURIST report] decriminalizing abortion, but the measure did not survive presidential veto. Uruguay is similar to most Latin American countries in having restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is completely illegal in Nicaragua [JURIST report], Chile, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic [HRW reports]. Brazil [HRW report] permits abortion when a mother's life is endangered or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In countries such as Colombia [JURIST report] and Argentina [HRW report], criminal penalties may be decreased when the mother's life is at risk. Although Mexico City legalized abortion [JURIST report] in some circumstances in April, it is still illegal in the rest of Mexico [HRW report]. Cuba [ISP report] is the only country in the region in which abortion is not illegal.

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