Mexico City Legislature Legalizes Early Abortions

The Mexico City Legislative Assembly voted yesterday evening to legalize first-trimester abortions in a 46-19 vote, with one abstention. Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, has already promised to sign the bill into law, which will likely spark court battles in the predominately Roman Catholic country. The bill, which includes a parental notification requirement for women and girls younger than 18, requires that city hospitals provide abortions in the first trimesters. The new legislation also makes abortion available at a low cost for poor and uninsured women.

Lilian Sepulveda, the Latin American legal advisor for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said of the vote, this “is going to make an enormous difference in the lives of Mexican women” Instead of back alleys, women will be able to go to the doctor’s office to get the health services they need,” the Miami Herald reports. Pro-choice demonstrators turned out yesterday in support of the City Assembly’s vote, the New York Times and the Associated Press report, chanting “Yes, we did it!” and holding signs with slogans including “My body is mine” and “It is my right to decide.”

Outside of Mexico City, Mexican law only allows abortion in cases of rape, severe birth defects, or in order to prevent the death of a pregnant woman. Across Latin America, abortions are highly restricted. Only Cuba and Guyana allow women to request the procedure for any reason during the first trimester, and Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Chile all ban abortion completely. Colombia also just liberalized its abortion laws last year, allowing the procedure in cases of rape, incest, when a woman’s life or health in endangered, and when a fetus is expected to die.

LEARN MORE Read “New Rights, Old Wrongs,” an article about Colombia’s decision to relax abortion restrictions, in the Winter 2007 issue of Ms. magazine

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New York Times 4/25/07; AP 4/25/07; Miami Herald 4/25/07; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 4/25/07

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