Mexico City: 11 years since the approval of legal interruption of pregnancy

Eleven years have passed since the historic approval of legal interruption of pregnancy in Mexico City and this right, with ups and downs, is deeply ingrained in the culture
Mexico City: 11 years since the approval of legal interruption of pregnancy
Pro-abortion activists wearing masks over their mouths demonstrate to demand the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico City, Mexico - Photo: Carlos Jasso/REUTERS
01/06/2018
16:33
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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Eleven years have passed since the historic approval of legal interruption of pregnancy in Mexico City and this right, with ups and downs, is deeply ingrained in the culture.

As a matter of fact, in the current electoral campaign abortion has been absent from debate at both local and federal level, due to primary concerns such as public security, drug trafficking, poverty, housing and water supply.

Last month, the former Mexico City Government Minister, Patricia Mercado, now a Citizen’s Movement (Movimiento Ciudadano) Senate candidate, denied rumors about her alleged plan to extend the legal period to abort from 12 weeks to 24 weeks (six months) in the nation’s capital, as some activists are demanding.

Since 2007, after Mexico's National Supreme Court of Justice ratified the corresponding law, more than 194,500 women have used the program for legal interruption of pregnancy in Mexico City.

Of that total, 30% were from other parts of Mexico and from other countries, while one of every two had secondary or higher education. In the age group, 69% of applicants were between 18 and 29 years old.

According to the non-governmental organization Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), the current law allows the interruption of pregnancy during the first 12 weeks or during the first 20 weeks in exceptional cases such as the victims of sexual abuse, life-threatening risks, and fetal malformations.

An extension of this period could be particularly relevant in the case of rape and for maternal health, it said, bearing in mind that some diseases are only detected after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Nevertheless, the local Senate passed on March a reform to the General Health Law that includes conscientious objection allowing medical personnel refuse to provide abortion or euthanasia services.

Some lawmakers, such as Angélica de la Peña, stressed in the debate their opposition to the reform, planned, they said, “to counter the progressivity of women rights to decide over our own bodies.”

Future authorities

For its part, another NGO, Catholic Women for Choice, marked on April 23 the eleventh anniversary of the Mexico City law calling the local and national authorities that will be elected on the polls in July 1 to guarantee respect for the secular state and the rule of law.

The organization also called upon to ensure the availability of safe and quality abortion services in the states where the procedure is legal, as well as the other states to consider the modification of their current laws and public policies regarding the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, in order to safeguard the life and health of women and female adolescents in accordance to the Montevideo Consensus of 2013.

Abortion is considered legal in the case of rape in the 31 Mexican states.

The procedure is allowed in all states, except in the penal code of Guanajuato, Guerrero, and Querétaro states, when continuation of the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother; is allowed in case of grave fetal malformations in 14 states and Yucatán, since 1922, recognizes economic factors to allow it when an applicant has given birth to three or more children.

More than 670 women have been convicted for abortion in conservative-leaning states, such as Guanajuato and Querétaro.

In practice, few states provide legal abortion services, yet their authorities do not prosecute the physicians who offer safe illegal abortion services nor clandestine doctors providing cheaper abortion services.

Edited by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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