Abortion Debate Gets Intense In Mexico

by Thilaka Ravi on  December 17, 2009 at 1:48 PM Lifestyle News
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As adverts in Mexico City remind residents that abortions have been legal for the past two years, lawmakers all over the country have been voting to sanction them with up to 50 years in jail.
 Abortion Debate Gets Intense In Mexico
Abortion Debate Gets Intense In Mexico

A string of Mexican states, influenced by the Church and the governing conservative party, have criminalized abortion since the capital in 2007 permitted termination in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In much of conservative Latin America, apart from Cuba, abortions are only available under limited circumstances, such as rape and incest, while rights groups say that in practice such abortions are difficult to obtain.

Half of Mexico's 32 states have now enacted anti-abortion measures and one, Veracruz in the east, has requested that Congress consider outlawing abortion at a federal level.

"Nine of those states consider that life begins at conception," said Diego Valades, a former Supreme Court magistrate.

Abortion in those states could be considered as "an infanticide," with a possible maximum sanction of 50 years in jail, said Valades.

Some of the Mexican measures were the most severe in the world, Valades claimed, with an average international sentence for abortion being three to five years and a maximum of 10.

The National Action Party (PAN) of President Felipe Calderon intensified its anti-abortion campaign after the Supreme Court in 2008 rejected a challenge to the Mexico City law, which had been backed by the capital's leftist Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD) government.

Amid a climate of suspicion, central Guanajuato, one of Mexico's most conservative states, has registered some 130 complaints against women taking part in abortions, including 20 that have been taken to court, according to Las Libres non-governmental organization.

The group helped secure the release of nine women who were imprisoned for five days for carrying out abortions.

"They were treated the worst in hospitals, by nurses and doctors, and by the police who detained them. Ironically, they were relieved when they arrived in prison because they weren't judged there," said Veronica Cruz, from the NGO.

Another organization, Fondo Maria, was set up in June to help women from the provinces travel to the capital for abortions to "exercise their right on their body," said Eugenia Lopez, from the group.

Lopez said around 20 percent of women having abortions in the capital came from other states, but that many traveled there in precarious conditions.

According to figures from the Mexico City authorities, more than 31,000 women had had legal abortions in the capital, up to September this year, since the law was applied on April 27, 2007.

Source: AFP

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