Uruguayan President Signs Abortion Bill

October 24, 2012

MONTEVIDEO, Oct 24 (BERNAMA-NNN-Xinhua) -- Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has signed an abortion bill into law that legalizes abortion in the country, officials said on Tuesday.

The bill was approved by Uruguay's Congress less than a week ago and signed by Mujica on Monday, making Uruguay the second country in Latin America, after Cuba, to allow abortions nationwide.

Mujica had indicated on several occasions that he would approve the bill, unlike his predecessor Tabare Vazquez who vetoed a similar proposal in 2008.

The new law calls for women to consult a panel of experts, including a gynecologist, a psychologist and a social worker, for different choices available before they choose abortion.

Women are also required to wait for five days to "reflect" on the decision, before scheduling the procedure at a hospital.

Under the law, having an abortion "will not be penalized," if the woman meets certain requisites "before the first 12 weeks of pregnancy." Those women whose lives are at risk due to pregnancy, or victims of rape or carry a deformed fetus, are allowed to have abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to the law.

The previous law, adopted in 1938, punished women who had abortions with three to nine-month jail terms.

Conservatives and some social organizations said they would seek a referendum to kill the law by collecting signatures.

The abortion law was passed with a majority of congressional votes from the ruling Broad Front party.