Guatemala confirms its high rank in the sphere of protection of human life. Abortion has been banned there for many years (with a guarantee of saving the mother's life, if threatened) by the Criminal Code and the Constitution. Instead of repealing good law - which is what the international abortion lobby wants - Guatemalan parliamentarians are seeking to improve it by passing a new law on the protection of life and family. It increases the level of protection of conceived life, protects the unique status of marriage, and introduces a ban on dissemination of abortion propaganda and the gender ideology. Almost 150 thousand participants of Marches for Life, who walked through the streets of Guatemalan cities, expressed their support for the changes in law.
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In recent weeks, the Guatemalan Parliament has had the first two readings of the draft law on the protection of life and family. The third reading is due to take place soon, and President Jimmy Morales has already announced his support. On 2 September, participants of Marches for Life walked along Guatemalan streets, and the largest march took place in the capital (the city of Guatemala). It was participated by representatives of the Catholic Church, Evangelical churches, Jewish communities and other religions.
The draft law on the protection of life and family was submitted to the legislative committee of the Congress in 2017. Its authors justify their initiative by the need to fully implement the provisions of the Guatemala Constitution of 1985,, according to which the state protects: the human being, family and human life since conception. According to the proponents, these norms have so far been violated or denied by certain minority groups with strong support of international organisations, questioning Christian morality, the right to life and the natural order of marriage and family. The initiators also recall, among others, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, which define family as a natural and fundamental social unit, guarantee its right to protection by the society and the state, and recognise that the right to marry and found a family is vested in men and women of marital age.
The new rules provide for more severe penalties for abortion perpetrators: the mother, the person who kills the unborn child and the one who causes it by violence, threat or deception. The draft law retains a provision to ensure that the mother's life is saved where this could result in the death of the child, provided that the child is not intentionally killed. However, the range of persons who can perform the procedure is limited. From now on, this can only be done by a gynaecologist after approval by two other doctors with the same specialisation. A provision is to be included in the Criminal Code introducing punishment for promoting the killing of unborn children or providing the necessary means.
The draft law also contains a chapter on the protection of family and marriage. It safeguards the child's right to family life and to be brought up by a mother and a father, and the right of parents to bring up their children in accordance with their own beliefs. It also prohibits the promotion or imposition of sexual diversity and the gender ideology and "non-heterosexual gender behaviour" on children and young people. The law also excludes the possibility of a marriage or a civil union of transsexual persons. These can only be concluded by a woman and a man “by birth”. In addition, the project extends the guarantees of freedom of speech and expression, distinguishing the right not to consider "non-heterosexual behaviour" as normal. It also confirms that no one may be prosecuted for not accepting sexual diversity or the gender ideology as normal, provided that this does not violate any legal provision or threaten the life, integrity or dignity of persons or groups manifesting behaviours or practices other than heterosexuality.
The Act is also intended to oblige public officials representing Guatemala in international relations to adhere faithfully to the principles and standards established by law as the official position of the state with regard to life, family, childhood and adolescence, and marriage. Acts performed in violation of this provision shall be considered invalid.
The adoption of the law will be another example of the Guatemalan authorities' intensive involvement in recent years in efforts to ensure fuller protection of human life from conception. These include stopping the activities of an abortion clinic ship, rejection of a bill allowing abortion in the case of girls under 14 years of age, and a ban imposed by the Supreme Court of Justice on the distribution of a UN textbook promoting abortion. In 2016, Guatemala also hosted the 7th International Congress for Life.
International feminist or LGBT activist organisations,, known to promote abortion killing of children as allegedly guaranteed by international agreements, are calling for the draft law to be rejected. In fact, international agreements underline the need for legal protection of life. According to Human Rights Watch, the draft law is "extremely dangerous" as it would "violate the rights of women and LGBT people”. Representatives of Amnesty International and LAMBDA, organisations which in recent years have repeatedly spoken out against the right to life of people at the prenatal stage of development, have also called for rejection of the project.
‘The example of Guatemala shows us that the theory of so-called "pendulum effect", which is liked (also in Poland) by opponents of the full protection of life and supporters of abortion status quo, is untrue: after several decades of the formal ban on abortion in the Constitution, in the Criminal Code and in conscious, conducted without hesitation policy of the author ities, who are not ashamed of their pro-life attitude, parliamentarians representing Guatemalans do not vote for relaxing the protection of conceived life, but for strengthening it’, commented Nikodem Bernaciak, an analyst at the Ordo Iuris Institute.
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