Guatemala Shelves Bill to Jail Women

( Legislators in Guatemala have canceled plans to push a new life that would imprison women in the country who undergo abortion procedures. The planned legislation was shelved only a week after President Alejandra Giammattei celebrated the passing of the “Protection of Life and Family” law and proclaimed the country as the “pro-life capital” of Latin America.

During a speech on March 9, Giammattei said that he was inviting Guatemalans to “protect life from conception until natural death.

Only a day later, however, the president announced measures outlined in the legislation were in violation of two international conventions that Guatemala is a signatory of, as well as the Guatemalan constitution. He didn’t explain what conventions the law was violating, but insisted that he would veto the legislation if it continued to progress through the nation’s legislature. However, congress quickly announced that the bill had been dropped.

Under the law, women would have been sentenced to prison if they accessed abortions. The law also banned same-sex marriage.

Under existing law in Guatemala, abortion is illegal unless the woman’s life is in danger.

President Giammattei also faced criticism from the United States. Reports revealed how to back-channel discussions were taking place between U.S. and Guatemalan officials, which may have played a role in bringing to the president’s attention that the law violated conventions that the country’s leaders had already signed.