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    Lawmakers in Honduras are set to ban abortion permanently in the country and make it virtually impossible to legalize it in the future.

    On January 25, Parliament in the Central American country approved “Shield Against Abortion in Honduras” which completely prohibits abortion, a move done less than a month after Argentina legalized termination on demand. With the new reform, abortion cannot be performed whatever the circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest, when the fetus has severe malformation, or if the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk, reports The Guardian.

    Every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception. —Mario Pérez, Honduran lawmaker

    Proponents said the reform outlaws any act that interrupts life and defended that “life must be respected from the moment of conception.”

    Gloria Bonilla, said, “As a woman and a mother, I am in favor of life and against abortion, I want to speak on behalf of those who are in the mother’s womb and cannot be opposed.”

    “Every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception,” said Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

    In addition to a total ban on abortion, the measure also created a legal “shield” against future modifications to the ban. Any attempt to repeal or enact changes to the country’s abortion law would require at least three-quarters majority of Congress—higher than the normal two-thirds vote, a level which many think would be impossible to overcome. Congress must ratify the measure in a year, but support was clear with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

    “What they did was set this article in stone because we can never reform it if 96 votes are needed [out of 128],” argued opposition MP Doris Gutiérrez.

    Rights groups slammed the new reform, saying it is an “abysmal step backwards.”

    “In Honduras there is an absolute violation of the reproductive rights of women and girls,” said Cristina Alvarado, a representative of the Women’s Movement for Peace. “They’ve erected a protective shield against abortion. This is historic. Even though abortion is already not permitted here in any circumstances, this move bullet-proofs that.”

    Alvarado disclosed that the measure would not prevent abortions in the country, and instead would push women to look for other ways, most likely dangerous, to terminate pregnancy, reports Financial Times.

    Abortion has been illegal in Honduras since 1982, but according to the UN, there are as many as 82,000 unsafe abortions in the Latin country every year. UN human rights experts condemned the reform, saying, “This bill is alarming. Instead of taking a step towards fulfilling the fundamental rights of women and girls, the country is moving backwards.”

    Honduras joins other Latin American countries—Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti, that have absolute bans on abortion, but Honduras is the only one that prohibits emergency contraceptives in all cases, including rape.