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Uruguayans scuttle referendum on abortion

24 June 2013, 12:01

Montevideo - A national vote on whether to call a referendum to repeal Uruguay's law legalising abortion failed to garner enough support, according to results on Sunday.

With more than 95% of precincts counted, just 8.65% of the total eligible to vote, or 226 653 people, were in favour of holding the mooted referendum, the electoral court reported.

At least a quarter of eligible voters needed to endorse the initiative in the non-binding public consultation, held after supporters of the referendum gathered more than 52 000 signatures.

The organisers conceded defeat earlier on Sunday, shortly after polls closed.

Opposition lawmaker Pablo Abdala, one of the main promoters of the movement to repeal the law, told a local television station the vote "closes a cycle", adding the issue was resolved for now.

The ruling party, which promoted the legalisation of abortion last year, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, as did women's and health groups.

But pro-life campaigner Lorna Marchetti said on Twitter that efforts to repeal the law would continue.

Last October, Uruguay President Jose Mugica signed a bill making his country only the second in mainly Catholic South America to legalise abortion.

The law allows women to have abortions with no questions asked up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and under certain conditions after that.

The first South American country to legalise abortion was English-speaking Guyana in 1995. Cuba, a Latin American nation in the Caribbean, did so in 1965 and the procedure is also legal in Mexico City.


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