Compromises made to secure votes disappointed both sides of the abortion divide, which gathered in protest. Once it gets through Uruguay's lower house, the measure would go back to the Senate for approval of changes, but President Jose Mujica has said he will allow it to become law.
The measure would give women the right to a legal abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and decriminalize later-term abortions when the mother's life is at risk or when the fetus is so deformed that it wouldn't survive after birth. In cases of rape, abortions would be legal during the first 14 weeks.
The goal is to reduce the number of illegal abortions in Uruguay, Congressman Ivan Posada of the center-left Independent Party told his fellow lawmakers Tuesday. Posada wrote the measure and is expected to provide a key 50th vote against the opposition of 49 other lawmakers.
"They talk of 30,000 a year, a hypothetical number, but whatever the number is, it's quite dramatic for a country where 47,000 children are born each year," Posada explained earlier in an Associated Press interview.
A poll this month showed 52 percent of Uruguayans would vote to legalize abortion if the question were put to the people, while 34 percent would vote against it. The survey of 802 people nationwide by the CIFRA consulting firm had a 3.4 percentage point margin of error.
Compromises include requiring women seeking abortions to justify their request before a panel of at least three professionals—a gynecologist, psychologist and social worker—and listen to advice about alternatives including adoption and support services if should she decide to keep the baby.
Then, she must wait five more days "to reflect" on the consequences before the procedure.
"It's important that the woman who decides to have an abortion attend this meeting where she will be informed, where they'll explain all the options including alternatives that she is free to choose from," Posada told the AP.
The review panel should obtain the father's point of view, but only if the woman agrees. Women under 18 must show parental consent, but they can seek approval from a judge instead if they're unwilling or unable to involve their parents in the decision.<!-- inj G3 -->