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Uruguay president signs bill legalizing abortion

Uruguay President Jose Mujica [official profile, in Spanish] on Tuesday signed a bill [text, in Spanish] legalizing abortion. The bill provides no restrictions on abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After the first 12 weeks it provides that women must go before a medical panel and go through a five-day "reflection" period before undergoing the procedure. This makes Uruguay only the second Latin American Country to legalize abortion. Conservative opposition is reportedly considering attempting to remove the law [Focus report] through a referendum.

Abortion is a controversial issue among predominantly Roman Catholic Latin-American countries. In April the Brazilian Supreme Court [official website, in Portuguese] overturned a ban [JURIST report against aborting brain-damaged fetuses. In March the Supreme Court of Argentina [official website, in Spanish] ruled that rape victims cannot be prosecuted [JURIST report] for seeking abortions. Last year Mexico's Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] failed to overturn [JURIST report] an amendment that stated life begins at conception, effectively banning abortions in Mexico's northern Baja California state. In 2008 Uruguay's then-president vetoed a law that was passed [JURIST reports] by the legislature decriminalizing abortion. Guyana legalized abortion in 1995.

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