After 3 days of discussion, Uruguayan lower chamber passed a bill to permit abortion practices all over the country on less than 12 weeks pregnancies. This law gives women the "right to decide over their bodies" and compels the State to develop prevention programs. Delivery of contraceptives in public hospitals would be a mandatory duty of the Minister of Health.
If Senate finally approve it, this law would be the first of the kind in South America and could be of example for many other countries in the region. However, it is expected to be resisted by the Government and a more conservative Senate.
The project had been presented by the major force in the lower chamber, Frente Amplio, a center-left coalition, very similar in structure than Lula's PT in Brazil. In turn, President Jorge Batlle advanced that he would use his right to veto if the Senate pass the law. His attitude is not free; he has been induced to make such statement by the powerful Catholic Church of Uruguay.
Notwithstanding, the wide support from the public opinion could change his decision as many prestigious professionals, artists and intellectuals back law.
On the other margin of the river
Civil rights in both margins of the Rio de la Plata appear to take strong steps towards the consolidation of civil rights. In Argentina, a similar project has been addressed to the Congress by the Socialist Party and is going to be discussed soon.
Also, in Buenos Aires, City's Congress will pass this week a law legalising homosexual couples in civil union: not marriage, but almost the same. Again, some reactionary sectors, the Catholic Church among them, actively oppose the initiative. However, the majority of the Chamber is ready to approve it as stated by its leaders.
Photo: Uruguayan National Legislative Palace in Montevideo.