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Uruguay lower house votes to legalize abortion

Uruguay's Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] voted on Tuesday to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to several conditions, by a vote of 50-49. Cuba and Mexico are the only other countries in the region that have decriminalized abortion [El Pas report, in Spanish]. A woman would have to go before a gynecologist, psychologist and a social worker to discuss her reasoning and hear their recommendations and then wait five days before having the procedure. Minors seeking abortions are required to have parental consent or an order from a judge. The new law would also allow health care providers to decline to perform the procedure [Guardian report]. This is a shift from the previous law where abortion was criminalized with exceptions for rape and the health of the mother. The legislation must now go back before the Senate for approval, which has already approved another version. President Jose Mujica has said he will allow the bill to become law.

Abortion continues to be debated internationally. Last month South Korea's constitutional court upheld [JURIST report] its abortion ban. Last year voters in Liechtenstein rejected a proposal [JURIST report] to legalize abortion in the country after the acting Head of State expressed displeasure with the law and threatened to veto the proposed change. In 2010 the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the restrictive abortion laws of the Philippines as a "human rights crisis," resulting in the death of thousands of women annually. In January 2010 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] argued that Ireland's restrictive abortion laws increase health risks to women [JURIST report] and expose them to deliberate misinformation about abortion procedures.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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