On Tuesday, April 24th, the legislature of Mexico’s Federal District approved a bill (46–19) that would make abortion legal during the first three months of pregnancy. Once signed by the Mayor, the bill will make Mexico City the largest place in Latin America, outside of Cuba and Puerto Rico to legalize abortion.1
Abortion in Mexico is considered a crime and is punishable with anywhere from six months to six years imprisonment depending on state law. Both women and health care practitioners can be prosecuted. In some states, the sentence will be lowered if the woman who aborted “does not have a bad reputation,” or the pregnancy was the result of a sexual relationship outside of marriage, or the woman managed to keep the pregnancy a secret.2
Currently, abortion in Mexico’s Federal District is permitted only in cases of rape, when the pregnant woman’s health is in grave danger, in cases of genetic deformities incompatible with life outside the uterus, and when the abortion is the result of the pregnant woman’s negligent behavior. Supporters of the bill estimate that approximately 2,000 women die each year from unsafe, back-alley abortions.3
The Catholic Church waged a vehement campaign against the legislation in which it distributed a Vatican statement describing abortion as “terrorism with a human face.”4 Felipe Aguirre Franco, archbishop of Acapulco, threatened lawmakers who supported passage of the bill with excommunication. Jorge Romero, of the conservative National Action Party, claimed that legalizing abortion was akin to encouraging irresponsible sex and “juvenile imprudence.”5 First lady, Margarita Zavala, also spoke out against the bill.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has promised to sign the bill into law within the coming weeks giving access to safe abortion to the 10 million women living in Mexico’s Federal District. Supporters of the law hope that it will become a model for other Mexican states and Latin American countries.
- “Mexico City Legalizes Abortion, Defies Church,” Reuters, 24 April 2007, accessed 25 April 2007, <http://www.reuters.com>.
- Abortion:Mexico, Human Rights Watch , accessed 8 March 2007,<http://hrw.org/women/abortion/mexico.html>.
- “Mexico’s City Legislature Votes to Legalize Abortion,” Washington Post, 25 April 2007, accessed 26 April 2007, <http://www.washingtonpost.com>.
- “Mexico City Legalizes Abortion Early in Term,” New York Times, 25 April 2007, accessed 26 April 2007, <http://www.nytimes.com>