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25 de Abril, 2007

Mexico City Passes Abortion Law

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MEXICO makes an important step, recognizing the autonomy and needs of las mujeres:

Mexico City legislators passed a ground breaking abortion legalization measure Tuesday that moves the nation´s capital into the vanguard of Latin America's nascent pro-choice movement.

The law allows women in the Federal District - Mexico City´s legal entity - to interrupt a pregnancy any time in the first 12 weeks. Public and private hospitals will be required to offer the procedure.

ALDF passes progressive abortion bill, El Universal

Many were overjoyed, and for good reason. One is that there will always be an underground abortion culture when laws do not protect women in this way. There is also hope that the accepted stigma and hate toward women who seek this procedure—even after being raped—will recede. They hold hope that now a living woman will be worth more in the eyes of the law, than a fetus.

The council passed the law 46-19, with one abstention, after seven hours of tense debate over the question of who has more rights – a woman or a fetus. [...]

Council members stood one by one to voice their vote, some cheering and others wiping away tears.

'Not one more death because of a clandestine abortion!' one shouted.

'For all women, and for my mother, who is here,' another said.

Mexico City legalizes abortion amid feverish debate, signonsandiego.com

Of course such a change does not come without its antagonists.

Opponents vowed to go to Mexico's supreme court to challenge the bill, which is expected to have effects far beyond the capital, which is North America's largest city and home to much of the country's hospital and healthcare infrastructure.

'This is a step backward for democracy,' said Armando Martinez, the leader of a Catholic lawyers' group, who had pressed the left wing-dominated legislature to submit the issue to a referendum and who now says he will file legal appeals. The church - which is barred by law from participating in politics, but nonetheless played a vocal role in opposing the bill - said only that it would 'evaluate the moral consequences of the reforms with experts and in accordance with the evangelists'.

—Mexico City faces court challenge after legalising abortions, Guardian (UK)

Experts, okay. Because we need more Experts to rule on what women need or don't need. And also, more "holy" types who would use thier power to threaten lawmakers and politicans for moving Mexico forward.

In other words, the Church continues to hate on women:

In a letter dated Apr. 20, the Pope urged Roman Catholics in Mexico to oppose decriminalisation of abortion and to staunchly defend every human being’s right to life, from the moment of conception, against any attack from the 'culture of death.'

Mexican Archbishop Felipe Aguirre warned that all those who aid and assist in an abortion will be automatically excommunicated.

The head of Pro Vida said that "whoever supports this criminal law will pay for it in the next elections. They will not escape punishment."

—Abortion No Longer a Crime in Mexico City,alterinfos, América Latina

Punishment? Wow. These godly types...I just don't don't know how much more divinity this world can stand, personally.

And then there were other threats (of divinely-inspired origin, no doubt) made:

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and conservative groups, which held marches and days of prayer against the bill, lashed out against the measure as an attack on life itself.

'The decriminalisation that has been approved is a disgrace, but we have not lost the battle,' Jorge Serrano, head of the anti-abortion group Comité Pro Vida, told IPS.

'We will not recognise this law and we will go to the clinics and hospitals where abortions are practiced to denounce them and try to keep them from carrying them out,' he warned.

—Abortion No Longer a Crime in Mexico City,alterinfos, América Latina

Hmmm. To "denounce them" and to "try to keep them from carrying them out." Ominous.

The Mexfiles gives us a breakdown of a last minute change in the bill which is in womens' favor.

The original bills simply did away with criminal penalties for abortions up to 12 weeks gestation. The PRD late last week substituted a new version, which defines penalties for abortions AFTER 12 weeks gestation. The substitute bill lowers the penalties to seeking an abortion after 13 weeks to three months imprisonment or 180 hours community service.

That’s more than a slightly cosmetic change. The original bill decriminalized abortions by creating a legal exception if the abortion was needed to avoid “interruptions in life plans”. Which meant the legislature could later define “life plans” narrowly and restrict abortions at a later time. By limiting criminal penalties to abortions performed at more than 12 weeks gestation, the way is open to lessen the penalties (under the proposal, up to 3 months imprisonment or 180 hours of community service), or expand the exceptions into the second trimester. As it is, Mexico City is revising the penal code anyway. Some of the “reservations” would require setting up an advisory committee to discuss abortions with patients, but these are minor tweaks of what’s now a done deal, giving the Federal District a less restrictive abortion law than some parts of the United States.

Federal District Assembly approves abortion laws, mexfiles.wordpress.com

Now Mexico joins Cuba and Guyana, as the only places in Latin America that recognize the need for women to have access to this crucial element of health care.

Personally, what I found telling (and disturbing) was that in such an important decision for women—whether or not you agree with it—there were almost no quotes to be found from women supporting the bill. Almost all quoted in these articles I read were men, and were against the bill. You could find women only sparsely quoted, and not even all of them were speaking in favor of the law being passed. And often an article that led in positively quoted, first, a male! Neither was it easy to find women in photographs who were not pictured as protesting the bill!

Was this because there are no Mexicanas happy with the bill? Not at all. This is due to the same bias and normalized hatred of women that dictated this law, and laws like it, standing until 2007 in the first place. The bias exists in the media, too, of course. The media is us, it is people. And this hatred of women is ubiquitous in not just American culture, but around the world.

'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,' said demonstrator Gabriela Cruz.

—Mexico City faces court challenge after legalising abortions, Guardian (UK)

'This is history,' said Raffaela Schiavon, executive director of Ipas Mexico, one of several reproductive rights organizations that have lobbied for legalization for many years. 'This is an important victory for women´s health and rights, but it is only the beginning.'

ALDF passes progressive abortion bill, El Universal

Verdad. It is the beginning. And it is a good start.

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Comentarios (10)

RickB dijo:


That is good news. Which cheered me up after reading this

Cero dijo:


Ain't it great?! I read the comments on the Jornada article, and it was like an online party!

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:


nice! i hadn't read those, i think i will. it was sort of a downer to read all these threatening church people and dour tones painted into many articles. i think it is great, yes.

claudia dijo:


It's easier to accept something until you see the pain it creates. The best thing is abstinence and value for all living things. Both choices are okay with me - it's what you can live with yourself that makes the difference.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez dijo:


yes...fetuses found in garbage cans. that's painful to learn about. or women injured, sickened, or dead from backroom procedures. that's very painful to know about. so we agree there.

but..."abstinence" from what? making laws that dictate rights on other people's bodies? if that's what you intend, i agree, again. i think we definitely ought to abstain from telling people what to do with their bodies or their pregnancies. nor do i know how these lawmakers and politicians "live with themselves" (as you say), or their high-handed, judgmental, commanding ways. but then again, some feel entitled to rule over the bodies and will of other humans without a second thought....

itzpapalotl dijo:


Finally! Very small steps, but at least some Latin American countries are starting to recognise fundamental rights for all women. There's still a lot of work to do, but at least the legal resource is there for all and not only the rich who can pay for a safe abortion in a private clinic. Un tequila! Salud!

Dan (Fitness) dijo:


Congrats to Mexico City!
"They hold hope that now a living woman will be worth more in the eyes of the law, than a fetus."
Now if only the SCOTUS could be persuaded to hold such a radical idea...

Trin dijo:


"Now if only the SCOTUS could be persuaded to hold such a radical idea..."


Auguste dijo:


It's easier to accept something until you see the pain it creates.

Yup. That's the pro-choice position in a nutshell. Oh, wait, you're arguing against choice? I think you may want to take another look at where that first principle lands you.

Joanna dijo:


Thanks for the great news round-up. I"m off to read La Jornada.