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Legal abortion nationally?

30 September 2018

According to an article posted on “Breaking”… a site I am not familiar with… the Morena majority in the Chamber of Deputies is expected to introduce a bill legalizing abortion at a national level (30 September: also covered by Forbes).  While legal (in the first trimester) in Mexico City, and although technically in most state legal under stringent conditions (rape, incest, to save the mothers’ life), and in a few states for economic reasons, the reality is that abortions … while as common here as in most of Latin America… most are “clandestine” with the expected result:    botched abortions being one of the more common causes of death among women of child-bearing age.

According to the article, the Morena proposal is grounded on the health and safety argument, rather than on empowering women, and control over their own bodies.  Even though the party has pushed for gender equality, this is probably a smart move, given that in good conscience, even socially conservative Morenistas (including the incoming president) can back legalization on these grounds.  In addition, given the party’s deification of Benito Juarez, and its “profession of faith” in the ideals of Juarez, those holding religious scruples can justify the separation of their duties as elected representatives of a secular state (whose constitution guarantees equality regardless of “belief or non-belief”) from those as a member of any particular religious body.

That includes the largest of those religious bodies, one that still counts in Mexican politics and policy.  While the “Catholic party”, PAN, naturally will oppose any reforms, and in a few states, when under PAN control, state constitutions were amended to include a  “life begins at conception” clause, the possibility that the feminist argument for free choice, could convince some legislators.  The mere fact that defining conception as the starting point has had less effect on curtailing clandestine abortions as it has on criminalizing women who can’t afford to travel to Mexico City.  The State of Guanajuato in particular has been jailing indigenous women for seeking or having abortions.

The Church will mount noisy protests, as it did in Mexico City when the abortion was decriminalize in 2007, and one can expect, as with same-sex marriage, court challenges and bureaucratic foot-dragging, but … considering abortion has only been illegal in Mexico since the 1930s and even after that abortions were always available to the well-heeled (at last as the early 2000s, one could read advertisements in the newspapers offering to “cure” what was euphemistically referred to as “late menstruation”), one suspects the opposition to reform is more based on legislator’s fears of backlash, than on any powerful voting bloc. So far, the demonstrations have been overwhelmingly in favor of reform.

Morena ya prepara la legalización del aborto en todo México, Alberto Saaveda, Breaking (29 September 2018)

La marea verde en la CDMX: mujeres marchan por la legalización del aborto en México, Animal Politica (29 September 2018)

Morena apoyará despenalización del aborto a nivel nacional Forbes, 30 September 2018

Abortion in Mexico, Wikpedia

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