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Guatemalan legislation makes abortion punishable by up to 25 years in prison

A woman holds up a sign during a protest to mark International Women's Day in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Sandra Sebastian

Guatemala‘s Congress passed a measure on Tuesday that makes abortion punishable by up to 25 years in prison, as well as prohibiting same-sex marriage and sexual diversity education in schools.

The news: The law for the preservation of life and the family, proposed by the conservative Viva Party, was unexpectedly passed by a huge majority of MPs, including allies of President Alejandro Giammattei.

  • The bill had been on hold since 2018, and it still needs to be published in the official gazette before it can take effect.
  • The penalty for an abortion has been doubled from five to ten years to twenty-five years, unless the mother’s life is in peril.
  • According to the draught language, the law also outlaws the teaching of sexual diversity and gender ideology to children and young adults, and states that no orientation other than heterosexuality is “natural”.
  • The law, which was passed on International Woman’s Day, has been challenged by activists and some politicians.

What are they saying: Jordan Rodas, Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman, said he will file a complaint on human rights grounds.

  • It is a setback to liberty, Rodas said outside Congress, adding that it violates human rights, it violates international agreements accepted by Guatemala.
  • Some MPs claimed that the law encourages racism and homophobia, as well as criminalises women unfairly.
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