While the U.S. has been roiling over a bitter presidential battle between incumbent Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, lawmakers in Guatemala reversed a previous decision to allow Planned Parenthood — the nation’s largest abortion business — to operate in the Central American country.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, a doctor and retired surgeon, announced the decision this week, according to the Catholic News Agency, explaining he is opposed to the organization’s stance on abortion.
“I recognize life from its conception, and therefore, in my government, I will not tolerate any movement that violates what is provided in our political Constitution of the Republic, that goes against the values with which I was raised and that conflicts with my principles as [a] doctor,” Giammattei said in a statement Monday. “I am a faithful defender of life and I am empathetic in stating that I will not endorse in my government the creation, registration, or start-up of any organization that goes against life.”
Oliverio Garcia Rodas, interior minister for Guatemala, has resigned from his post after initially approving the agreement between his country’s government and Planned Parenthood.
The president said Rodas gave his notice this week, saying he decided to step down “due to the error he had committed and considering that it was strongly opposed.”
Under current law in Guatemala, abortion is illegal except in cases when the mother is facing a life-threatening medical emergency. The third article of the Guatemalan Constitution states the country “safeguards and protects human life from conception.”
Giammattei was apparently unaware of the since-rescinded decree and had no prior knowledge or participation in it, according to his press secretary, Francis Masek.
“It was not until the publication of the NGO’s authorization that the president became aware of the error of authorizing an organization whose social aim is to attack the right to life, which, among other things, the state of Guatemala must safeguard,” Masek told VICE News.
It’s worth noting, however, Planned Parenthood Global — the U.S.-based group’s international branch — does not directly provide abortions.
The Family Matters Association of Guatemala issued a statement thanking Giammattei “for his firm statement” defending life and safeguarding “the lives of Guatemalans from conception, as established in our Magna Carta.”
AFI Guatemala also pointed out Planned Parenthood “is responsible for more than 350,000 abortions in the United States annually.”
“It’s public knowledge that Planned Parenthood’s major source of income is from abortion,” the group stated, adding company executives have in the past acknowledged its participation “in the sale and trafficking of organs of aborted babes.”
According to data shared by the U.S. Department of State in 2018, 45% of the Guatemalan population is Catholic And 42% is Protestant. Around 11% of the population professes no religious affiliation at all.