Hundreds of Mexican women protested anti-abortion legislation that passed in Mexico’s Guanajuato state, which is governed by President-elect Vicente Fox’s conservative National Action Party (PAN). The legislation, passed by the Guanajuato Congress on August 4th, criminalizes abortion even in cases of rape and where the woman’s health is endangered. Women gathered outside the headquarters of PAN in Mexico City, unfolding one banner that read: “PAN members should not make laws based on religious fanaticism.” Public health and women’s rights advocates fear that Guanajuato’s hostility towards women’s reproductive rights portends deeper restrictions on abortion in the future. Women’s organizations maintain that PAN represents a massive threat to women’s rights, noting the notorious case in which PAN officials in Baja California denied a 14-year old rape survivor’s request for abortion.
Currently, the Mexican government only permits abortion in the cases or rape or where the woman’s life is endangered. Abortion is the fourth leading cause of death among Mexican women, and an estimated 300,000 illegal abortions take place every year in Mexico. The Ministry of Health notes that an average of 1,500 women a year die from botched procedures, although some say that the numbers are twice or three times that high.