You’ll recognize this.

It’s a familiar scenario: a tall, photogenic,
charismatic left-leaning President who outsmarted traditional political
forces to win office with 51.7 percent of the national vote. His
platform is social justice, tax reform, human rights, better health
coverage…His party controls both houses of the legislature. Elected in
the midst of an economic crisis, the pundits described his campaign of
hope as “the most profound political rupture in recent history”.

Barack Obama, right?

Wrong. The president of Uruguay, who just stunned the world with a decision he announced.

So what did President Tabaré Vázquez, do about a bill to
give Uruguay the most progressive abortion law in Latin America? He
vetoed it.

And with compelling reason.

What was most interesting about Vázquez’s veto, however,
is not the politics, but his thoughtful, scientific response to the
proposed legislation.

Though based on biological truths about life, there is a moral
grammar to his language, reflecting the fundamental truths of natural

There is a consensus that abortion is a social evil
which must be avoided. Nonetheless, in those countries where abortion
has been liberalised, it has increased. In the United States, in the
first ten years, they tripled, and the figure has been maintained. It
has become customary. The same thing happened in Spain.

Laws cannot ignore the reality of the existence of human life in its
gestational stage, just as science reveals it. Biology has evolved
greatly. Revolutionary discoveries, such as IVF or sequencing the human
genome, show that from the moment of conception there is a new human
life, a new being. So much so, that in modern legal systems, including
our own, DNA has become the acid test of determining the identity of
persons, independent of their age, even if the body is destroyed, or
when practically nothing is left of the human being, and even after a
long time.

The true degree of civilisation of a nation is measured by how the
neediest are protected. Therefore we must protect the weakest amongst
us. Because the criterion is not the value of the subject with respect
to how others respond to him, or his usefulness, but the value which
exists due to his mere existence…

This is an unapologetic, apolitical appeal for true universal human
rights and the common good. It is more intellectually honest than just
about anything we’ve seen in US politics in a long time.
President-elect Obama highly admires Abraham Lincoln and seems to think
he is styling himself after that great American leader. But just as
Lincoln accused Douglas of “trying to blow out the moral lights” in
their famous presidential debate, a liberal official who promotes “the
common good” and a whole agenda of rights while denying the most
fundamental human right is stumbling along a dark path.

Various media are declaring “the whole world is watching” in recent
days after the elections here. They sure are. Earlier today, an
international member of the World Youth Alliance sent me this blog post on the above MercatorNet article, on the Uruguayan president, who found a way to be truly progressive.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....