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DF Abortion decriminalization only the beginning

26 April 2007

Mexico City’s new abortion bill (which won’t be a law until some minor details are worked out, it’s published in the Gaceta and signed by Marcelo Ebrard… details, details) is, of course, the talk of Latin America.  I noticed there were major stories in all the Latin American newspapers, the best from Argenpress, which has an excellent overview of the history and legal status of abortion in Mexico.  Sorry, I haven’t had time to translate it.

Within the Republic, there are already moves within some state Congresses to change existing laws.  Puebla Governor Marin is calling for a referendum within the state to keep the contentious issue out of the Congress.  Marin’s party is the PRI.

Kiosko Mayor (Hermosillo) reports that the Sonora State Congress has taken up the issue. At this point, PRD in favor, PRI against “a culture of death” and PAN promoting better health care for pregnant woman.

With the PRI split on whether to go back to its revolutionary (and anti-clerical) socialist roots, or whether it should become a centerist party, I’m not suprised the Sonoran party is opposed to the same bill that was introduced by the party in the Federal District.  (Blogotitlan believes PAN and PRI should be called PRIAN, since they both share the same neo-liberal economic ideology).

Abortion reform will have a tough time in Sonora, with the State Congress split 13-12 between PAN and PRI, and with PRD holding only three seats (PAN ally Nuevo Alianza has two and PRD ally, PT has one).  The surprise is that the issue is even coming up.

PAN, which voted against the Federal District bill as a bloc, is in trouble with the Elections Tribunal for running an ad featuring an actor playing a supreme court judge condeming the woman for having an abortion. I’m not sure what PAN was trying to prove, but the parties get all kinds of federal funding to spend on advertising, in return for restrictions on content. Suggesting how the Supreme Court would rule is a big no-no.

At the same time, however, the Federal Government (which is controlled by PAN) is ready to prosecute Cardinal Norberto Rivera for interfering in the political process.  PAN may be the “confessional party”, but the radical separation of Church and State is still the law in Mexico:

“Authorities have begun prodeedings, based on the complaint, which named Norberto Rivera Carrera and Hugo Valademar Romero as persons who made reference to a specific political party in their capacity as religious ministers and as spokesmen for a religious association,” according to an official release.

Salvador Beltrán del Río, General Director of the Office of Religious Associations, added that the Cardinal and Valdemar Romero were notified of the administrative procedure. He added that “The Secretaría de Governación reiterates its inalterable decision to pursue this case, which falls within the scope of the Secretariat’s duties, and is obliged to enforce strict compliance with the law.”

PRD and the PRI have both complained about foreign … specifically Vatican interference, and are demanding the Secretary of Foreign Affairs send at least a stiffly-worded note.

Pro Vida, the right wing Catholic group (as the Protestant Christian Coalition was to the Republican Party, Pro Vida is to PAN) had influence under Fox (Marta Fox came from the “confessional wing” of the party, and helped steer government funds to the group for sex education — what we’d call “abstinance education.”  It was wasted among other things on buying tangas for the leadership’s girlfriends… one reason pro-abortion protesters were throwing panties at the Pro Vida supporters), and is using abortion to try and regain some of their influence.  While they are convincing PAN leaders to do something to stop the bill, they aren’t exactly up to speed yet.

El Diario de Cuidad Victoria reports that Pro-Vida suddenly is shocked, shocked to discover there are at least five clinics offering abortions. Pro-Vida has been in Victoria for only 19 years.

Mexico is not as Catholic as outsiders like to think, and 2/3rds of voters in the Presidential election cast ballots for leftists or anti-clerical candidates.  Despite some alarmist rhetoric, I really think we’re going to see a continuing liberalization in Mexico.  Just as a foretaste, I noticed that the Secretary of Public Instruction, pressed on whether abortion would be included in the required sex-education curriculum (even in private religious schools) said it would be at least mentioned.

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