“Life and Family” Bill is a Smokescreen for Corruption in Guatemala.

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03/15/2022

On International Women’s Day, March 8, the Guatemalan Congress passed an extraordinarily regressive “Life and Family” bill that undermines the rights of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. President Alejandro Giammattei announced on March 10 that he would veto the law, noting that it violated international treaties. While outrage around the bill is justified and should continue, the bill also serves to divert attention from the pernicious dismantling of the rule of law that the government and its allies are currently undertaking. The far-reaching bill expands the criminalization of abortion and could subject women who have miscarriages to questioning by law enforcement authorities, or even prosecution. The new proposal defines abortion as the “natural or provoked death” of an embryo or fetus. It establishes prison sentences of up to four years for women who “cause their own abortion,” and 10 years for women who seek an abortion. Under current law, abortion is legal in Guatemala only when the life of a pregnant woman or girl is in danger. The proposal establishes that “freedom of conscience and expression” protects people from being “forced to share or participate in non-heterosexual conduct and practices.” The vagueness of this article appears aimed at legally protecting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, such as in housing, employment or service provision. The bill defines “family” as “father, mother, and children,” deliberately excluding the realities of diverse families; and explicitly bans same-sex marriage and unions.

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