On November 14, Doctor Tabaré Vásquez, President of Uruguay, making use of the faculty that the Constitution grants to him, vetoed a bill that attempted to legalize abortion in his country. The president vetoed the bill only two days after Congress passed it, thanks to Vásquez’s party holding a majority in the Uruguayan government. The proceedings were marked by many irregularities and even blatant fraud.
Enormous pressure was placed on Vásquez by his party (who unanimously approved the motion) to follow suit. Immediately after the veto, the Uruguayan media reported that no one in the government would support the president and that this would effectively disable any veto. However, this was completely discredited by public statements of the Health Minister, Maria Julia Muñoz, and the Tourism Minister, Hector Lescano. As a matter of fact, Lescano signed and formally accompanied the President in the veto.
Ever since he assumed the Presidency in 2005, Vásquez announced several times that he would veto any law that legalized abortion. In March of 2006 he even threatened to dissolve the legislative body if they insisted on attempting to pass them. With a few months left in his term and without a shoe-in for re-election, Congressional pro-aborts thought that Vásquez would prove more malleable and would finally yield. They were wrong.
Thus, the best political lesson in the defense of life has come from an unexpected place: a leftist president of a country with one of the longest liberal traditions in South America. How now will pro-abortion activists be able to pigeonhole Tabaré Vásquez as a “religious right-wing fundamentalist,” the way that they attempt to do to all who oppose the supposed “right” of abortion?
The following are the central justifications of the veto:
- “There is consensus that abortion is a social evil to be avoided.” The liberalization of abortion does not reduce instances of abortion, it increases them. Hard data is available to prove this, particularly from the United States, where, in the first ten years after abortion was legalized, the rate of abortion tripled and remained that way, as it did in Spain.
- “The legislation cannot avoid the scientific and biological reality.” “. . . DNA and the sequencing of the human genome they leave in evidence that from the moment of the conception is of a new human life, a new being. So much so, that in modern legal systems, including ours, DNA “has been used as a test to determine the identity of people . . .”
- “The true degree of civilization of a nation is measured by the level of protection that it gives to the most needy.” The value of the person is in his/her mere existence, before their utility or the feelings that they provoke.
- The proposed norm “among others affects the constitutional order and commitments assumed by our country in international treaties the Pact of San Jose of Costa Rica . . . and the Convention on the Rights of the Child . . .”
- By virtue of the Pact of San Jose of Costa Rica, Uruguay is obliged to protect life from conception and to recognize that this life is a person. If it is not going to do this, it is required to denounce the Convention.
- The regulation of the conscientious objection is deficient and discriminatory. The freedom of conscience is not respected.
- It affects the freedom of enterprise and association when institutions are forced to act against their original principles [for instance, if this law were not vetoed, Catholic hospitals would forced to perform abortions].
- “The project in addition describes erroneously, and in a forced way, against common sense, abortion as a medical act, disregarding international declarations like those of Helsinki and Tokyo . . . that reflect the Hippocratic oath, which characterizes medicine as acting in favor of the life and of physical integrity.”
- “In accord with the idiosyncrasies of our population, it is more suitable to look for a solution based on a solidarity that allows us to support the woman and the child, granting them the freedom of being able to find other options, and in this way, to save to both of them.”
- “It is necessary to attack the true causes of the abortion . . .that arise from our socio-economic reality . . . For it is necessary to surround the helpless woman with indispensable protection and solidarity, instead of facilitating abortion.”
In summary, the president’s actions provide a powerful message for politicians who now have sufficient legal, social, and economic support, to stand against to the legalization of the abortion. Nothing less than a public, pro-life presidential decision in a country that is proud of its rampant secularism. After this veto, it will take a brazen politician to maintain a pro-abortion position.