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Laws regarding abortion access

Abortion laws in Mexico City, Mexico

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Marginally related note:

Ironically, the U.S. has a guideline called the "Mexico City policy. It prohibits financial aid to international family planning organizations if they provide abortion counseling, or provide abortions, or which advocated abortion access in even one country.

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The population of Mexico City and suburbs is about 18 million; the population of Mexico is about 105 million. The country is nominally 90% Roman Catholic. Against overwhelming opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, lawmakers in Mexico City created a law on 2007-APR-24 that allows abortions on request for pregnant women in their first trimester: -- i.e. less than 12 weeks from conception -- if having the child "... would negatively affect their life project." Women who are near the first trimester limit will be given abortions immediately; those whose pregnancies are less advanced will have to wait until after the rules are formally published.

Whether a person regards this development as a major victory for women, or as a tragic murder of hundreds of thousands of pre-born children annually depends largely on when the individual believes that human life becomes a human person. Almost everyone regards ova and spermatozoon as living entities containing human DNA, and thus being two forms of human life. But there is no consensus on when this human life becomes a human person whose life should be protected.

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Status of abortion in Mexico, Central America, and South America:

TruthOut reported:

"A study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico estimates there are half a million to 1 million illegal abortions a year - in doctor's offices for those who can afford it, and through self-induced wounds or toxic teas for those who cannot." 1

It is generally acknowledged that more than 2,000 die annually from the procedure. Before the bill was passed, abortions in Mexico city were only available when the woman's life was endangered by the pregnancy. In the rest of Mexico, abortion was only permitted in case of rape. Many women crossed the border into the U.S. and had their abortions in Dallas or Houston, TX.

TruthOut continued:

"Alejandra Garrido, a member of the anti-abortion group Young Citizens for Dignity, 23, said Mexico City's law will draw young women from all over the country and pressure more states to allow abortion on demand. Young women are going to come ... [to Mexico City] to get abortions, which is logical, and then more and more states are going to consider something similar. We are against abortion because we believe the right to life is a fundamental human right."

The Feminist Majority Foundation reported that:

bullet Assembly Leader Victor Hugo Cirigo said of the new bill: "No church, no religion can impose its vision of the world in this city."
bullet His Party of the Democratic Revolution occupies 34 of the city's 66 legislative seats.
bullet Although Mexico's President Felipe Calderon is Catholic, Mexico City has been governed with a "more liberal stance toward religion" since 1997. 2

Across South America, according to the United Nations, four million women have illegal abortions annually. As of 2007-APR, abortion is legal only in three countries: Barbados, Cuba, and Guyana. However, Colombia and Uruguay are considering changes to their legal prohibitions of abortion. Cardinal Rubiano, the Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, has asked Christians to pray that abortion will not be legalized in his country. He said:

"The loss of Colombia will substantially weaken the pro-life fabric of all Latin America. What begins as a small hole will end as a huge tear allowing much evil to come in." 3

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In advance of the change in the law:

Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter on APR-20 to to the bishops of Mexico noting:

"In this Easter period, we are celebrating the triumph of life. ... I exhort you to protect this great gift firmly, the right to life of everyone from the first instant of conception, in the face of whatever opponents from the culture of death." 3

On 2007-APR-21, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family and its top anti-abortion campaigner, arrived in Mexico to try to change the politicians' voting intentions.

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Law approved:

On 2007-APR-24, the Mexico City legislative assembly voted 46 to 19, with one abstention, to legalize abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy. This followed "seven hours of tense debate over the question of who has more rights - a woman or fetus." 4 The law had specified a one to three year jail sentence for all women who have an abortion. The clause now applies for second and third trimester abortions only.

Most of the opposition to the liberalization of the abortion law came from the Roman Catholic Church.

bullet The National Action Party, which supports the stance of the Roman Catholic Church has vowed to appeal the law to the Supreme Court in the hope that it will be declared unconstitutional.
bullet Archbishop Angelo Amato, the second most important authority on doctrine in the Roman Curia, said that abortion was as "repugnant" as "terrorism."
bullet Under the laws of the church, anyone obtaining or performing an abortion is automatically excommunicated.

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Reactions to the new law:

bullet Jorge Serrano, leader of the pro-life group Comité Pro Vida said rather ominously:

"The decriminalization that has been approved is a disgrace but we have not lost the battle. We will not recognize this law and we will go the the clinics and hospitals where abortions are practiced to denounce them and try to keep them from carrying them out." 4

bullet An unnamed source in the Vatican said: "There is still time to change the situation, we can hope for a court ruling." Other sources said that there was a mood of disappointment and a deep fear that the rest of Mexico and other Latin American countries might follow the example of Mexico City. 5
bullet The church is circulating a petition to require a public referendum on the issue. They have collected 70,000 signatures to date.
bullet Gabriela Cruz, a pro-choice demonstrator, said: "I feel happy, because this is a step forward, not backward, for a woman's right and freedom to choose ... about her body and her life." 4
bullet Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, the Archbishop of Mexico, has expressed the belief that the law is unconstitutional. During Sunday Mass, referring to the bill's supporters, he said:

"They say it's a problem of a woman's right over her body, and they put to one side the right of aborted boys and girls over their bodies. ... Laws, whatever they are, are intended to respect life. A law that does not is ungodly."

bullet Raffaela Schiavon, executive director of Ipas Mexico, a pro-choice group, said: "This is an important victory for women's health and rights, but it is only the beginning."
bullet Aurora Tinajero, director of Spanish Ministry for the Pro-Life Committee of North Texas (a.k.a Respect Life Ministry for the Diocese of Dallas) said: "The bottom line is abortion is killing, abortion is murder. ... It is very troubling for Catholics of Mexican descent to look south and see this is happening."
bullet Jorge Serrano Limon, head of the National Pro-Life Committee said:

"We are seeing social decomposition, unfortunately, and attacks on family values. Abortion is a crime, as is the sexual lewdness we are seeing on TV, along with civil unions [for same-sex couples]." 1

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare the above report in the year 2007, and update it since. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Laurence Iliff, "Proposed law to legalize abortion roils Mexico City," TruthOut,2007-MAR-30, at:
  2. "Mexico City Moves to Liberalize Abortion Laws," Feminist Majority Foundation, 2007-MAR-14, at:
  3.  Malcolm Moore and Jerry McDermott. "Mexico City legalises abortion,", 2007-APR-27, at:
  4. "Mexico City passes abortion law," The Unapologetic Mexican, 2007=APR-25, at:
  5. Malcolm Moore in Rome and Jerry McDermott, "Catholics to appeal Mexico City's abortion law,", 2007-APR-27, at:\

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Home > "Hot" religious topics and conflicts > Abortion > Laws > here

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-APR-27
Latest update: 2007-APR-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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