Uruguay Abortion Law: Protection of Conscience Provisions

Sean Murphy*

The Act legalizing abortion in Uruguay, passed in the fall of 2012, includes two protection of conscience provisions.

Section 10 provides protection for existing health care institutions that are part of the National Integrated Health System if they had ideological objections to abortion at the time the law was enacted.  They are not required to provide abortion, but “may” reach an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health to arrange for their patients to have abortions elsewhere.  If “may” is understood to mean that such arrangements are optional, institutional freedom of conscience will not be compromised.  However, it appears that all hospitals that are part of the National Integrated Health System that are opened from this point on will be required to provide abortions.

Section 11 allows conscientious objection by health care workers, but this is limited by the meaning given to “health” in Section 6A.

[Protection of concience provisions: Spanish/English]


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