In late October, pro-life leaders in Uruguay launched hundreds of balloons in a clear signal to the nation’s political leadership that motherhood is a gift to be cherished and protected, not marginalized and attacked.
Under the slogan “Let’s decriminalize motherhood”, several Uruguayan pro-life groups met to begin a national dialogue on the results of the partial legalization of abortion. Leaders discussed the costs that women have to pay to become a mother in Uruguay today, and the need to promote a system of protection of motherhood.
The October 26th commemoration began with a rally in front of the Monument to the Mother, which is located across from the Parliamentary Palace. Reflecting the flag of Uruguay and the number of babies killed since the law was passed, blue, yellow and white helium balloons were released, and a bouquet of flowers was placed at the monument by two children, in memory of mothers, who are the secondary victims of abortion.
Participants then crossed to the Legislative Palace, where a ceremony was held in the lobby of the House of Representatives.
First, two women, Alexandra and Monica, gave testimony of the “sufferings and travails” they have had to endure for the “crime” of becoming a mother. Next, five pro-life legislators spoke: Luis Eduardo Pintado Sabini, alternate representative of the Colorado Party for the Department of Canelones, Grisell Pereyra (National Party/Montevideo), Carlos Lafigliola (National Party/Montevideo), María del Carmen Marichal, councilman of the Colorado Party for the City of Montevideo; and Álvaro Dastugue, representative of the National Party for the Department of Montevideo.
Gerardo Amarilla, representative of the National Party for the Department of Rivera and next President to be of the Chamber of Representatives, Valentina Rapela, alternate representative of the Colorado Party for the Department of Montevideo, and Pedro Bordaberry, senator of the Colorado Party sent their greetings to those in attendance.
Teresa Rodríguez, president of Madrinas por la Vida (Godmothers for Life), an NGO that assists vulnerable pregnant women, also addressed the audience. She emphasized that “abortion is not only a problem for the woman, it is a huge social problem that involves all of us. Abortion is the most unjust example of what Pope Francis calls the ‘culture of disposal’ that numbs our consciences and makes us silent accomplices of this terrible event.”
She recalled that the abortion law was passed under false pretenses, such as the false claim from the abortion lobby that 33,000 abortions were already committed every year. This statistic has been refuted in the recent official figures – in fact, maternal mortality had been on the decrease leading up to the change in law, with very low rates compared to other nations.
“The results”, she marked, “have been disastrous. In the first two years, 15,175 children have lost their lives to abortion, and only 8% of mothers who have been advised by the consultant team have decided to give birth. Clearly the law has also failed to end illegal abortion, as shown by the aborted babies found in trash containers. The law has only left mothers abandoned in isolation, fathers whose paternal authority rights have been denied and doctors who are pressured and slandered.
Since abortion became legal the pregnant woman in vulnerable situations continues to be alone, stigmatized, pressured by her family, pressured by the context, pressured by her fears and sorrows, and by a dehumanized society that does not care. Apart for some organizations that provide them with support and refuge, our society only offers them abortion, abortion and more abortion. And the causes that led them to it (e.g. fear of being thrown out of home or work, having to abandon their studies, not knowing how to feed their children) are never addressed. Moreover, recently published data proves that the adoption system is broken.
Thus, there is an urgent need in Uruguay to ‘decriminalize maternity,’ so that becoming a mother not be a ‘crime’ sentenced with so many social penalties: loneliness, stress, stigma, anxiety, unfair costs and being forced to give up your job or studies. The testimonies we have heard are clear examples of what happens in this country when a woman gets pregnant: problems seem to multiply and life becomes a blind alley. Women are left in utter helplessness since during the medical consultation abortion is offered as if it were nothing more than removing a cyst, to be executed without delay, lest the mother should change her mind.
These women do not need suggestions on how to end their baby’s life, which will bring them only harm such as depression, addictions, insomnia, and violence, even years afterwards. They need support, words of hope, educational and work programs, economic benefits that allow them to go on with their pregnancy. It is false to claim that a woman who is considering an abortion will go through with it no matter what. In the 17 years Madrinas por la Vida has been working, we can boast that no woman who approached us decided to abort. We need to accompany these women and their babies, and never discard them. Unfortunately, no alternatives are offered in health centers, because there is not one state plan of real support for motherhood in this county. Therefore, we advocate for policies that offer true social assistance to mothers, and that would replace the abortion law passed three years ago.