By a vote of 72-26 with six abstentions, Peru’s Congress passed a bill on Nov. 9 that expressly recognizes the rights granted in its constitution to unborn children.
Congressman Alejandro Muñante, one of the spokespersons for the Life and Family caucus in Peru, on Nov. 12 told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that the fundamental purpose of the law was “to consolidate the right to life from conception, which is already established in our constitution and in the Civil Code and the Children and Adolescents Code.”
The lawmaker explained that for the drafting of this law, “the need was seen to be able to develop and detail a list of rights that our constitution precisely seeks to protect from conception.” According to Article 2 of the country’s Magna Carta, in Peru “the conceived child is a subject of law in everything that favors him or her.”
What changes does the new law bring?
The first article of the recently passed “Law that Recognizes Rights of the Conceived,” or Law 785, establishes the unborn as a subject of rights with full status as a human person. The second article guarantees the conceived child’s distinct genetic identity, unique and unrepeatable, independent of the mother and endowed with its own personality.
Article 3 of the new law recognizes the rights to life, health, moral, mental and physical integrity, identity, free development, well-being, and other rights that benefit the unborn human being.
As for the current Civil Code, Article 1 makes a distinction between the conceived child and human person by establishing that “the human person is a subject of law from birth” and thus leaves room for arguing “but not from conception.”
As amended, the Civil Code states: “Human life begins with conception. The human person is a subject of law from his conception. The Peruvian state recognizes and guarantees respect for the dignity of the conceived child, as well as its right to life, individual identity, mental and physical integrity, as well as to freely develop in the womb [i.e., without external interference].”
Article 5 of the law, referring to the “rights of the pregnant mother,” establishes that “the state guarantees the pregnant mother’s access to health, as well as the information required for health care and nutrition of the conceived child during the gestational process.”
The final Article 6 states that “in situations of high medical risk, in which the life of the mother and the conceived child is endangered, health professionals are obliged to inform [the patient] of the diagnosis, treatment, and effects of these on the health and development of the pregnant woman and the conceived child.”
“In the event that the treatment endangers the life of any of these,” the article continues, “it is up to the mother or spouse, cohabiting partner, or relatives up to the second degree of consanguinity and first degree of affinity, to decide regarding the medical actions to be carried out.”
For Congressman Muñante, this law “has achieved good progress in terms of protecting the right to life,” and for it to go into effect “all that is required is for it to be published in the Peruvian Official Gazette and the corresponding amendment of the Civil Code.”