The Congress of Uruguay has passed a measure to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Despite the country’s strong Catholic population, the majority of people in Uruguay believe that abortion restrictions should be eased, and 63 percent believe that the President should not veto this measure.
This is more than a simple political fight. Illegal abortion in Uruguay accounts for 29 percent of all maternal deaths — more than double the world-wide figure. In one public hospital in Montevido, nearly half of all maternal deaths were caused by illegal abortion. And despite its illegality, abortion is a common method of fertility control.
A similar measure failed a while back — and unsurprisingly, U.S. “pro-life” leaders were partially responsible. Despite the fact that women in Uruguay are dying because abortion is illegal, American “pro-lifers” nevertheless took it upon themselves to fax letters to senators in Uruguay asking them to oppose the measure and continue treating women like criminals:
The letter, dated Apr. 30, was ”a non-habitual form of communication between lawmakers from different countries” which, by appearing ”in the midst of the debate on the bill, amounted to a serious case of undue pressure,” socialist Senator Mónica Xavier, one of the sponsors of the ”law for the defence of reproductive health”, told IPS.
”We encourage you in this historic time in your country…to (vote) against this pro-abortion bill and also to refuse to leave it up to a referendum,” says the two-page letter faxed from the office of Representative Christopher Smith.
The letter, to which IPS had access, was signed by Republican Party representatives Smith (New Jersey), Todd Akin (Missouri), Jo Ann Davis (Virginia), Mike Pence (Indiana), Steve King (Iowa) and Joseph Pitts (Pennsylvania).
The bill ”on which the Senate is about to vote would legalise the violent murder of unborn children and the exploitation of women through abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy,” the letter adds.
Apparently it’s not “exploitation of women” to leave them dead or permanently maimed, or to put them in jail for terminating a pregnancy. Unsurprisingly, the Catholic church establishment isn’t any better — although they are more offensive:
”What difference is there between an 18-year-old youngster who flies through the air, shot out of a train in Madrid by a dynamite explosion, and a human being at just two months of gestation that is in the mother’s uterus when they insert forceps and smash its head and then pull it out in pieces and throw it in a garbage can?” asked [Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montevideo Nicolás] Cotugno, alluding to the Mar. 11 terrorist attacks on commuter trains in Spain.
Forty percent of all pregnancies in Uruguay end in abortion. Most of the women procuring those abortions don’t die, but some do; others are maimed; others are jailed; and the rest are forced to undergo a clandestine and often dangerous illegal procedure, putting their lives at risk. That’s the reality of a “pro-life” nation: Abortion doesn’t go away just because you outlaw it. And yet that’s all anti-choice groups can think to do. There’s no aid, no prevention, no education or birth control — just punishment of women.
Next time a “pro-lifer” tells you he care about women and doesn’t want to see them harmed, killed, maimed or jailed, ask him why his most vocal representatives were writing letters to Uruguay, in the name of the “pro-life” movement, in order to uphold that exact reality.
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