The international pro-life movement won a significant victory last week in Guatemala. On Wednesday March 9, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei celebrated the Ibero-American Congress for Life and Family (CIVF) proclaiming his nation the “pro-life capital of Latin America”.
Joined by his cabinet, members of Guatemala’s Congress, religious leaders and a large international delegation, Giammattei vowed to protect life from conception to natural death and vowed to fight for families in his country.
Along with the ceremony, Giammattei also unveiled a monument in the presidential palace and said March 9 would henceforth be known as the National Day of Life in Guatemala.
The designation of Guatemala as the “pro-life capital of Latin America” comes at a pivotal time for the international pro-life movement, as many countries in the region are rethinking their abortion laws. For example, in early 2021 the Argentinian government legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and in September 2021 Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down pro-life laws in two states. More recently, in a February 21 decision, the Colombian high court legalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Thus, Guatemala’s decision to embrace and defend the pro-life values of its people is significant. Just this week, President Giammattei complained that countries like Guatemala often come under pressure from the United States and other Western countries to expand legal abortion and adopt gender ideology as a condition for receive certain forms of international aid and assistance. Giammattei’s decision to resist cultural imperialism is a remarkable display of courage. Last fall, he courageously added his country to the Geneva Consensus Statement, joining 35 other countries in affirming that there is no international right to abortion and that abortion should never be promoted as a form of family planning. (Conversely, President Joe Biden withdrew the United States from the declaration in January 2021.)
Alongside the Palace festivities, the Ibero-American Congress for Life and Family hosted the “International Summit of Pro-Life Organizations”. The summit brought together leaders from across the Ibero-American region as well as 75 representatives of pro-life organizations in the United States, including the Family Research Council (FRC). These meetings took place alongside CIVF’s annual gathering of pro-family and pro-life organizations from across Latin America and Spain.
As part of the summit, I moderated a panel with leaders from Students for Life, National Right to Life, Global Life Campaign, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Americans United for Life. The topic of the panel was the challenges facing the pro-life movement. During my remarks, I argued that the absence of a biblical worldview and apathy toward the Bible’s teaching on life are additional challenges facing the pro-life movement. I urged delegates to continue to fight for life and to encourage pastors within their sphere of influence to preach the full counsel of God’s Word, including its relationship to the issue of abortion.
FRC was able to equip summit attendees with Resources who apply a biblical worldview to a wide range of relevant issues, including the sanctity of human life.
FRC’s Quena Gonzalez participated in a panel discussion on how to advocate for pro-life policies. Quena encouraged delegates to be motivated by Micah 6:8, which asks believers to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with our God. As Quena explained, “Our love for God motivates us to plead for justice. Our love of neighbor motivates us to advocate for policies that allow all Americans, not just Christians, to prosper. And our love for the governments we seek to influence – the administration, members of Congress, etc. – leads us to see in each of them the imago Dei, the image of God, and to tell them the truth with love.
Speakers at the Sixth CIVF Annual Meeting included President Giammattei, Shirley Rivera (President of the Congress of Guatemala), Luis Lam (Guatemala Ambassador to the United Nations), Angela Gandra (Secretary of the Family of Brazil), Michael Farris (president of the Alliance Defending Freedom) and Valerie Huber (president of the Institute for Women’s Health). The CIVF was founded in 2017 in response to the growing need to engage governments and political leaders in Latin and Central America on issues that affect life and family.
Huber, who helped lead the Geneva Consensus Declaration during the Trump administration, praised President Giammattei for signing it last October. Joining the statement, Huber noted that Giammattei “reminds the world that Guatemala has the sovereign right to implement policies consistent with its own national laws and cultural context without external pressure and interference… from other countries, international organizations or outside special interest groups. .”
The CIVF meeting concluded after hearing remarks from Mario Bucaro (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala), Gerardo Amarilla (Deputy Minister of Environment of Uruguay) and other Latin American leaders. The event concluded with the publication by the CIVF of the Declaration Guatemala 2022 which affirmed that the family was fundamental for the flourishing of societies in Latin America and declared the intention of the organization to continue to engage the political and religious leaders in the region on life and family policies.
While we in the United States await the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe U.S. Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, we should be grateful for the courageous leadership of world leaders such as President Alejandro Giammattei. After the official ceremony and unveiling of the statue on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to personally thank Giammattei on behalf of the Family Research Council for his leadership in positioning Guatemala as a leader in the international pro-life movement. Giammattei’s stand for life and family in the face of intense pressure deserves our admiration and respect. May courage beget more courage, and may all of us who care about the dignity and worth of the unborn child look to the example of Guatemala.
I joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss Guatemala’s historic declaration as “Latin America’s pro-life capital.” You can listen to the interview here.
**To see where other countries stand on abortion around the world, see our map and publication.
Originally published at Family Research Council.
David Closson is the director of Christian ethics and biblical worldview at the Family Research Council.