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Mexico City Lawmakers Begin Hearings on Abortion Bill

Hearings on a bill that would legalize abortion for women in Mexico City during the first three months of pregnancy began on Wednesday. Although the Legislative Assembly will not vote on the bill until mid-April, lawmakers are confident that it will pass. The bill was proposed by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), which currently holds the majority of seats in Mexico City, which is a district with its own legislature.

Thousands of women marched to the Mexican capital last week to show their support of the new bill. Led by the city legislators, groups of women, activist and feminist groups were heard yelling “freedom to choose,” reports the Washington Post.

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has announced that he will sign the bill into law if it passes the Legislative Assembly. First-trimester abortions would also be free at city health facilities and private hospitals would be required to provide the procedure to any woman who requested one, reports the New York Times. PRD also drafted a bill to the federal Congress that would legalize abortion nationwide, but lawmakers are expected to receive more opposition on the federal level.

Patricia Mercado, a former presidential candidate and feminist spoke out about the bill and its importance, saying, “A woman can decide to have an abortion or not have it, but it’s her decision. A secular state has the obligation to give the right to women to take this decision in the best conditions,” reports the Washington Post.

Under current Mexico City law, any woman who undergoes an abortion is subject to a three-year prison sentence, though prosecutions are rare. Illegal abortions in Mexico City carry much more serious risks for women: anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 Mexican women die a year due to complications from illegal abortions, reports the Los Angeles Times. “Our jails are not filled with women who’ve received illegal abortions. They’re in the cemeteries,” said Patricia Galeana, a historian who testified at Wednesday’s hearing stressing the importance of legalized abortions for Women”s health.

Sources:

Los Angeles Times 3/29/07; News Medical.net 4/2/07; The New York Times 3/31/07; Washington Post 3/30/07

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