Guatemala’s parliament has dismissed a controversial abortion law a week after it was enacted. Under the law, abortion rules were tightened, and same-sex marriage was banned.
It was conservative president Alejandro Giammattei who asked the conservative-dominated parliament not to introduce the law after all. Under the bill, women who have an abortion could face up to 10 years in prison. The text also amended the Civil Code, which prohibited marriage between two people of the same sex.
The New York Times reports that the turnaround comes after days of protests and legal proceedings against the law. Giamattei’s announcement that he will veto the proposal comes as a surprise. On March 9, the day after the law was passed – International Women’s Day – he attended a ceremony proclaiming Guatemala the “pro-life capital” of Latin America.
However, a week later, he says that ceremony had nothing to do with the bill itself, which “suffers technical defects” and “violates the constitution of the republic”. According to officials and human rights activists, the reversal was caused by the new law’s immediate criticism from home and abroad. Signing the bill would further damage the reputation of the already very unpopular Giammattei.
The current abortion law in Guatemala also provides for up to 3 years in prison for abortion. Interrupting a pregnancy is only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger. Moreover, the Civil Code already states that marriage is a union “between a man and a woman”.