Abortion in Uruguay


Is abortion legal in Uruguay?

In 2012, Uruguay passed the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Act, establishing legal abortion services within the National Comprehensive Health System (SNIS). Legal access to abortion is restricted to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with certain exceptions, and must be provided by a health professional within the SNIS. The process involves several steps:

  • An initial medical consultation to express the intention to terminate the pregnancy, during which a medical professional provides detailed information about the law and the subsequent procedures, and refers the individual to a multidisciplinary team.
  • A pregnancy confirmation through an ultrasound and a beta-hCG blood test.
  • A discussion with a multidisciplinary team, including at least a gynecologist, psychologist, and social worker.
  • A five-day reflection period to consider the decision.
  • A final decision confirmation by a gynecologist.
  • Post-abortion care and contraceptive counseling.

If these steps are not followed, the abortion is considered illegal under the Penal Code (law 9414, article 325), and can result in a three to nine-month sentence.

Foreign nationals seeking an abortion must have at least one year of residency in Uruguay, except for victims of gender-based violence within the country (law 19580, article 7) or those who became pregnant as a result of trafficking and exploitation (law 19643, article 5).

High rates of conscientious objection among gynecologists, exceeding 60% in some areas and reaching 100% in others, pose significant barriers to accessing abortion services.

According to the 2020 Second National Survey on Gender-Based Violence and Generations, 54.4% of Uruguayan women who had a voluntary abortion reported experiencing violence from the healthcare team during the process. A study by Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU) on patient experiences during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and abortion supports these findings: half of the women stated that they were shown ultrasound images during their abortion consultation; a quarter were made to listen to fetal sounds; and one in ten received judgmental comments from the healthcare provider about their decision to terminate the pregnancy.

For those who have faced obstetric violence during pregnancy, abortion, or childbirth, support is available from organizations like MYSU.


What are the abortion services available in Uruguay?

  • Medical Abortion (Pill-based abortion: Misoprostol, Mifepristone)
  • Surgical Abortion
    • Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)
    • Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
  •  Post-abortion Care

It’s important to note that while Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) is legally available, access can be challenging. Gynecologists may not be able to perform it due to a lack of training, inadequate equipment, or refusal to conduct the procedure. In Uruguay, 98.8% of abortions are carried out using medication.

Note: Curettage (also called D&C) is an invasive method that involves more risk and days of recovery. International organizations do not recommend it unless it is the only possible option.


Who can provide a safe abortion in Uruguay?

Only gynecology professionals are legally authorized to directly intervene in the legal termination of pregnancy, which means they are the only professionals qualified to prescribe abortion medication.


Where can I go for abortion services in Uruguay?

All health providers within the National Integrated Health System (SNIS) are required to offer abortion services to their patients. However, there are two exceptions: the Catholic Circle and the Evangelical Hospital. These two providers were granted this exception under the concept of “ideological objection,” a form of institutional conscientious objection (law 18987, article 10). Nevertheless, both institutions are still obligated to refer patients seeking an abortion to other providers.


What is the cost of a safe abortion in Uruguay?

In Uruguay, abortion services are provided free of charge. However, the necessary medical tests, which include at least one ultrasound and a beta-hCG blood test, may incur varying costs for those with private insurance or those using private healthcare services. For individuals accessing public healthcare services, these tests are available at no cost.


Which abortion pills are available in Uruguay?

In Uruguay, the abortion pills available are mifepristone and misoprostol. According to the official medication list from the Ministry of Public Health, the brands sold in the country are:

  • Combipack – Mifepristone plus misoprostol:
    • MARIPRIST – mifepristone 200 mg tablet and misoprostol 200 mcg tablet – Laboratory SERVIMEDIC – Prescription Only – with active pharmacovigilance
  • Misoprostol:
    • PARTUM – misoprostol 50 mcg tablet – Laboratory SERVIMEDIC – Prescription Only
    • CYTEC – misoprostol 200 mcg oral tablet – Laboratory CELSIUS – Prescription Only – with active pharmacovigilance

Where can I buy abortion pills in Uruguay?

Although misoprostol can be purchased at pharmacies, it is only sold with a medical prescription for gastroenterological use. Its commercial sale for abortion purposes is punishable by law. The abortion medication (mifepristone and misoprostol) is for in-hospital use within the Health System institutions.

It’s not possible to legally buy the abortion pills online. Many clandestine sites have been shut down and the crackdown on them intensified after the creation of legal services.


What are the post-abortion care services available in Uruguay?

The post-abortion care services available in Uruguay include a post-abortion control ultrasound and a general medical check-up. Regulations also establish counseling in contraception as part of this consultation. There are no other standardized services outside of the post-abortion consultation, known as IVE 4, as it is the last stage of the process established by law and health regulations. However, one can turn to sexual and reproductive health services for general advice or with any questions/concerns, as their functions go beyond simply serving as a multidisciplinary team for the stage prior to the interruption of a pregnancy.


Who can I contact for additional abortion information and support in Uruguay?

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