Like the majority of Latin American countries, in Uruguay abortion is illegal except in special circumstances, those circumstances being rape, incest, and the health of the mother. A mother who received an illegal abortion can be sentenced to 3 to 9 months in prison while those that performed the procedure can receive 6 to 24 months in prison. Despite the law, about 30,000 illegal abortions occur yearly in Uruguay (conservatively) and there are only 55,000 births per year. Abortion, then, is used as a means of fertility control, but it comes at a cost. 29% of maternal deaths result from abortion complications (the world average is 13%). The reason for this high percentage is that a safe abortion would cost 500 to 600 dollars, which is unaffordable for many women.
In 2008 a bill that would have legalized abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy passed the Uruguayan senate and House of Representatives but was vetoed by President Tabare Vasquez. Before the bill came to a vote Uruguayan senators were under pressure to reject the bill by those opposed to it, including the catholic church (the Archbishop of Montevideo compared those that supported the bill to terrorists) and even six republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter urging Uruguayan Senators to vote against the bill. This caused a bit of a ruckus with legislatures and activists who thought it was undue interference.