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Peru: Congress Debates Legislation Decriminalizing Abortion

(Nov. 6, 2009) On October 7, 2009, Peru's Special Revision Commission on the reform of the Criminal Code approved an amendment that would decriminalize abortions performed in cases of rape or congenital malformations of the fetus. The amendment also permits abortions for pregnancies resulting from unwanted artificial inseminations. Currently, these abortions are penalized with imprisonment of more than three months, unless they are performed to save the woman's life or to prevent a permanent impairment in her physical or mental health.

According to statistics from the Study for the Defense and Rights of Women, there are 372,000 clandestine abortions in Peru each year, and abortion is the third most common cause of death among women. According to its supporters, the amendment is intended to protect the health of women, rather than to promote abortions. Conservative legislators and political forces are against this amendment and have stated that they will oppose any amendment detrimental to the right to life as an absolute right, without exception. (Aprueban en comisiĆ³n especial despenalizar el aborto, EL COMERCIO, Oct. 7, 2009, available at