Early childhood law revives debate on abortion in Panama
A bill on early childhood approved by the Panamanian Parliament sought to "protect" minors "from conception," a term that was eventually dropped and which revived a discussion led by feminist groups on abortion.
The draft of bill 155 approved by the deputies, to which Efe had access, indicates "it will be applied for the comprehensive protection of the rights of children in early childhood throughout the territory of Panama, both in the public sphere as private or private ", and will understand from" the first eight years of life. "
Funds will be allocated "directly to children for education, health, tax deductions for school expenses, and it has important items for caregivers who may receive financial help to work and care for their children," the president of the Commission for Affairs of Women, Children, Youth and Family of the National Assembly, the deputy Zulay Rodríguez.
Feminist associations affirmed that during the parliamentary debate the deputies did not listen to this sector and "wanted to make a series of reforms" that were not in accordance with the original objective, one of their representatives, Alibel Pizarro, on behalf of several of these, told Efe. women's associations.
The legislative initiative was promoted by the Ministry of Social Development (Mides) and must be sanctioned by the president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, and published in a gazette for its entry into force.
THE SUBJECT OF OVERLAPPING ABORTION
Almost thirty women's associations signed a joint declaration in which they disapproved of the recognition of a person "from conception"; superimpose parents as protectors of minors over the State, and "put as the main institution the Ministry of the Presidency, which has handled direct budgets for health with many questions."
This was explained to Efe Pizarro, representing several of these associations, who specified that they were not allowed to participate in the debate despite having delivered the document to the Assembly.
Users in social networks and journalists in traditional media questioned whether the inclusion of the term "from conception" to define early childhood could hinder an eventual law of free abortion, and if this could open the door to penalize -more- the interruption of the pregnancy.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Panama signed in 1989, establishes that "a child is understood to be every human being from birth to age 18," which would have legally contradicted the term "from conception.
"That term (from conception) was eliminated because there were groups that were opposed and the advisers told us that international organizations such as the UN were not going to give aid if the concept was maintained," Deputy Rodríguez explained to Efe.
Pizarro pointed out that "if the phrase defining early childhood as from conception to eight years of life had been included, a non-existent precedent would have been created in Panama."
"There is no regulation that defines childhood in this way, but rather in the Constitution and in the Family Code, a natural person acquires rights after birth," he explained.
In Panama "the norm is very clear: there is no accepted legal abortion or voluntary interruption of the pregnancy", a fact with which the majority of the population agrees, as well as in its three exceptions, "when the life of the woman is in danger , when the product of conception is not compatible with life, and in cases of rape ".
"We want pregnant women to be protected, to be guaranteed their food, care, tests, nutrition and, in the case of working women, their maternity leave," said Pizarro.
A GOOD PROPOSAL
The feminist associations considered that the project finally approved is a "very good proposal."
The law states that "access, guarantee and compliance will not be subject to any consideration or circumstance, but always taking into account the rights and duties of their parents, guardians or other persons responsible for the child before the Law."
"Panamanian law includes the best interests of the minor, when a boy or girl is at risk, the State has to ensure their welfare beyond the responsibility of their parents," according to Pizarro.
For her part, Congresswoman Rodríguez pointed out that "the family is the pillar of a society and parents have the right to guide their children."