Mexico City: Council Law to Decriminalize Abortion


A new majority of leftist politicians in Mexico City’s local assembly are likely to decriminalize abortion within the city. This would be the council’s second progressive legalization to anger religious conservatives in 5 months; it legalized homosexual civil unions in November. That law took effect on March 16. Another battle is likely over the council’s intentions to legalize euthanasia.

Abortion is already partially legalized in the city, but only in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. According to Assembly leaders, 2,000 women die every year due to illegal abortions. Nationally, abortion is only legal in the case of rape.

Currently, the safety of an abortion procedure available to a Mexican woman is directly proportional to her pocketbook. Some wealthy women travel to the US for the procedure, while millions of poorer women have the option of a secret back-street operation. Should abortion be decriminalized in the capital city, not only would the over 4.7 million women living in the federal district have access to safe abortion, but women from across the country could travel to the federal district to have legal abortions.

Church leaders are protesting the move, afraid that the law could spread nationally. Their fears maybe well founded. On March 20, a federal senator introduced a bill to decriminalize abortion through out the country. The leaders of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches in the city will protest the law on March 22, and propose a different law that would provide financial support and tax breaks for mothers, as well as aid adoption agencies.

90% of Mexicans (over 90 million people) consider themselves Catholic, constituting a catholic population second only to Brazil. "The leftists’ anti-democratic, intolerant and fascist attitude has tried to shut up a voice that objects to this absurd blood law," said Hugo Valdemar, from the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

The national bill was filed by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), which is the second-largest party in Congress. It would permit women to have an abortion within the first three months of pregnancy. It also proposes that government-financed health clinics provide abortions to low-income women who request them. It is unlikely that the bill will pass in the congress, as president Felipe Calderon has said he will veto the bill.