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Report: Mexican capital defies Church on abortion

April 24, 2007

From Reuters via The Australian

Mexico’s capital has legalised abortion, defying the Church but delighting pro-choice advocates in the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic country.

Mexico City politicians voted 46 to 19 to pass a leftist-sponsored bill allowing women to abort in the first three months of pregnancy.

The vote split Mexico and prompted a letter last week from Pope Benedict urging Mexican bishops to oppose abortion.

Riot police kept rival groups of rowdy demonstrators apart outside the city’s assembly building.

Weeping anti-abortion protesters played tape recordings of babies crying and carried tiny white coffins.

“We did it,” pro-abortion campaigners chanted after the vote.

The ban will remain in force in the rest of the country and anti-abortion campaigners are likely to challenge Mexico City’s abortion law in the Supreme Court.

Only Cuba, Guyana and US commonwealth Puerto Rico allow abortion on demand in Latin America.

Many other countries in the region permit it in special cases, including after rape, if the fetus has defects or if the mother’s life is at risk.

Leftist deputy Enrique Perez Correa said Mexico was more liberal than its macho image portrayed.

“It appeared to be a conservative country ruled by the Church. We have now shown that is not the case,” he said.

Church leaders threatened to excommunicate leftist deputies, mostly from the Party of the Democratic Revolution, who voted in favour of lifting the abortion ban.

“They will get the penalty of excommunication. That is not revenge, it is just what happens in the case of serious sins,” said Felipe Aguirre Franco, the archbishop of Acapulco.

Country split

Opinion polls show Mexico’s population of 107 million, of whom some 90 per cent are Catholic, is split over abortion.

The Vatican’s second-highest ranking doctrinal official, Archbishop Angelo Amato, denounced abortion and euthanasia on Monday as “terrorism with a human face.”

Pope Benedict is to visit Brazil, the county with most Catholics, next month in his first trip to Latin America since becoming Pontiff.

Anti-abortion campaigners say a fetus three months into pregnancy is a human being.

Conservatives published a full page of symbolic death notices for unborn children in a newspaper today.

President Felipe Calderon, a practising Catholic, has largely avoided speaking on the issue but First Lady Margarita Zavala entered the debate at the weekend, condemning abortion in a rare political comment.

Mexico City politicians have recently stirred up controversy by allowing gay civil unions and considering a euthanasia law.

Further alarming the anti-abortion camp, Mexican politicians have filed a proposal in Congress for a national abortion law.

Some 8.6 million people live within Mexico City limits but the whole metropolitan area is one of the world’s biggest conurbations, with some 18 million residents.

Related Posts:
Report: Thousands march in defense of life in Mexico

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