Mexican capital legalises abortion

Legislators defy Roman Catholic threat of excommunication to pass controversial bill.

    The bill decriminalises abortion in the first
    three months of pregnancy [AFP]
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    Mexicans are sharply divided over the bill and have staged emotional protests.
     
    Pope Benedict sent a letter last week urging Mexican bishops to oppose the bill.
     
    But supporters welcomed the move saying it will prevent thousands of mostly poor women who resort to abortions in unhygienic backstreet clinics from dying each year.
     
    Botched jobs
     
    "We don't want any more women to die in clandestine abortions," Agustin Guerrero, a leftist local deputy, said.
     
    Jorge Diaz Cuervo, a city legislator and a social democrat who voted for the bill, said: "Decriminalising abortion is a historic triumph, a triumph of the left."
     
    Martha Micher, director of the Mexico City government's Women's Institute, said an estimated 200,000 women have illegal abortions each year in Mexico based on the number who show up at hospitals later seeking treatment for complications.
     

    Protesters cry murder but supporters
    say the bill will save lives [Reuters]

    Botched abortions using herbal remedies, black-market medications and quasi-medical procedures kill about 1,500 women each year and are the third-leading cause of death for pregnant women in the capital, she added.
     
    Under the Mexico City law, abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy is punishable by three to six months in jail.
     
    Church leaders have threatened to excommunicate leftist deputies, mostly from the Democratic Revolution party, who voted in favour of lifting the abortion ban in the capital.
     
    'Terrorism'
     
    On Monday, the Vatican's second-highest ranking doctrinal official, Archbishop Angelo Amato, denounced abortion and euthanasia as "terrorism with a human face".
     

    "Lucky turtles! It appears they have more people willing to defend them than some unborn children"

    Paula Soto,
    National Action party

    The city is dominated by Democratic Revolution party legislators, at odds with the conservative National Action party led by Felipe Calderon, the president, who opposes abortion.
     
    "We go to great lengths to protect [sea] turtle eggs,'' Paula Soto, a city legislator from Calderon's party said.
     
    "Lucky turtles! It appears they have more people willing to defend them than some unborn children."
     
    Riot police kept rival groups of rowdy demonstrators apart outside the Mexico City's assembly building where weeping anti-abortion protesters played tape recordings of babies crying and carried tiny white coffins.
     
    Cuba, Guyana and Puerto Rico have similar legislation. Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chile ban abortions completely.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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