Nearly one hundred doctors in Uruguay filed a lawsuit on Dec. 7, arguing that the country's new abortion norms to not allow for conscientious objection.

According to the newspaper El Observador, the doctors state that because they are directly responsible for implementing and administering the regulations, they feel obliged to denounce "several grave illegalities" they contain.

The abortion law took effect on Dec. 3, when it was signed by President Jose Mujica. Fifteen pro-life groups in the country are collecting signatures for a referendum to revoke the measure, as Uruguay's Catholics bishops continue to voice their opposition to it.

The physicians, who belong to the association Doctors for Health and for Life, charge that the norms "seek to limit fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution," such as "independence in the moral and civic conscience of every dependent worker."

The conscience clause in the regulations is "restricted to the execution of an abortion and to the personnel that directly participates in such execution."  

"There are other aspects of the Law which health care personnel might object to, and such a right is explicitly excluded from this decree," the doctors said.

Conscientious objection to performing a abortion by health care workers is also prohibited if the attending doctor determines that it would threaten the woman's health.  

"The life of the mother must always be safeguarded, but the decree arbitrarily defines the concept of 'grave risk to health,' eliminating the word 'grave' and including 'any risk to the bio-psycho-social health of the mother, whether they are grave or not,'" the doctors added.

Uruguay's abortion law requires that women seeking the procedure receive counseling from a team of health care experts, including information on the choice of adoption, but "these tasks are omitted from the duties that experts that make up the team are supposed to carry out," the doctors said.  

Such restrictions turn the team of experts into a mere "preamble for abortion," they said.