Peru’s Congress approves legislation protecting pregnant women and their babies

Peruvian Congress The Congress of the Republic of Perú in the nation’s capital of Lima. | Credit: Cris Bouroncle/AFP via Getty Images

The Peruvian Congress passed by a wide margin a bill that establishes the obligation of the state to guarantee “the protection of the pregnancy, the pregnant mother, the unborn child, and their family environment.”

The measure, sponsored by Congresswoman Rosangela Barbarán of the Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) party, was approved on March 13 by a vote of 87-18, with seven abstentions, and has been sent to the country’s president, Dina Boluarte.

In an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, the director of the Latin American Office of the Population Research Institute, Carlos Polo, said the legislation represents “true progress in the agenda for respecting the life of the conceived child.” 

Polo added that on March 25, the Day of the Unborn Child in Peru, a significant celebration will be held to commemorate the achievement that “Congress established by law that the state protects both lives.”

Article 2 of the legislation stipulates that both the state and society, especially health care professionals, are obliged to provide special protection during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. This protection extends across the board to all entities, both public and private.

One of the most relevant provisions of this law is the recognition of the right of babies to be born “in a healthy, decent, and safe environment.” In addition, the right of the father is also recognized in everything that benefits these important phases of the gestational process.

In practical terms, Polo pointed out, the new law promotes public policies that guarantee comprehensive health coverage for the mother and the unborn child, including prenatal check-ups, maternal nutrition, preparation for childbirth, prenatal stimulation, childbirth and postpartum care, postnatal rest, early stimulation, prevention and early diagnosis, early care and rehabilitation, family counseling and therapy, as well as health education and support for entrepreneurial families.

Polo added that, based on this law, no entity will be able to “use the penal code as an excuse to say that in Peru there is the right to ‘therapeutic abortion’ and that it’s legal.”

“Nor will they be able to continue citing the disastrous ruling of the Inter-American Court in the case of Artavia Murillo v. Costa Rica, which says that the life and health of the mother is more important than the life of the conceived child,” Polo explained.

Peru’s penal code states that abortion “is not punishable” when “it is the only means to save the life of the pregnant woman or to avoid serious and permanent harm to her health.” However, since early August last year, there have been cases of abortions performed on sexually abused minors justified as “therapeutic” abortion.

For Giuliana Caccia, director of the Origen Association, it is clear that the “majority of Peruvians want children to be born healthy and we want to work to make that happen.”

“For us, the solution to poverty or poor health is not to kill children but working to make progress so that the conditions improve for the most vulnerable,” Caccia posted on X.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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