Mexico Supreme Court Could Decide Mexico City Legal Abortion Case Soon

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 19, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mexico Supreme Court Could Decide Mexico City Legal Abortion Case Soon

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 19
, 2008

Mexico City, Mexico ( — The nation’s highest court in Mexico could issue a decision soon about whether the Mexico City legislative assembly had the authority to legalize abortions in the federal district. Abortions have been legal since April 2007, and pro-life advocates hope the Mexico Supreme Court declares the move invalid.

The high court heard testimony from both sides this spring and pro-life advocates joined with the federal government in saying the nation’s Constitution offers a guarantee of legal protection for unborn children.

The federal government is at odds with the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, the left-wing party that controls most of the Mexico City government, which allowed abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

The Mexico Supreme Court has previously ruled that abortion is a crime but could not be penalized, but with Mexico City actually making abortions legal and drawing women from across the country for them, both sides expect a more polemic ruling.

Ana Elena Cantu, a lawmaker who is a leading pro-life figure in Mexico, tells McClatchy Newspapers she hopes the high court upholds the federal constitution and its right to life for all.

"A person’s life has such a great value that we cannot take it, we are not the owners," she said.

Arturo Gaytan, a Mexico City official, told the news service there have been more than 12,000 abortions since the city’s public hospitals and medical centers began doing them. The abortions are provided at no cost to residents as most of the women are poor.

He told McClatchy that 39 percent of the abortions involve women who have children and don’t want any more. Students not ready for children account for another 27 percent of those getting abortions and 20 percent are lower-class workers who say they can’t afford to have a baby.

Together, the statistics show a high percentage of women are using abortion as a means of birth control.

Pro-life groups fear legalizing abortion in Mexico will topple pro-life laws in the rest of Central and South America — places where most nations are strongly Catholic and protect unborn children.

"It will be a model – at least in that it can show the way to other countries," Ruben Ramirez Sanchez, head of Mexico operations for IPAS, an American pro-abortion groups, told the news service.

During the hearings, the nation’s high court heard from lawmakers, doctors and pro-life attorney who said provisions added to the Mexico Constitution in 1997 provide nationality to all people, including "the newborn and the conceived person.”

“In an explicit, direct, clear and undisputable way, this constitutional reform recognized the conceived person to be the subject of rights, therefore, constitutionally, the embryo is a person,” attorney Jaime Inchaurrandieta told the court.

They also pointed to a 2002 Mexico Supreme Court decision holding that the Constitution protects the rights of unborn children from the moment of conception.

“The product of conception is protected from that moment and can be designated inheritor and donator; it is concluded by this court that the protection of the product of conception’s right to life derives both from the Mexican Constitution and from international treaties and local and federal laws," the court said in that ruling.

The Catholic newspaper also reported that Rocío Gálvez, president of the National Pro-Life Committee, a leading national pro-life group, presented the members of the high court with petitions from 1,600 women who already regret their abortion decisions.

The women had abortions in the hospitals and medical centers in the district and, less than a year later, are already in "pain, suffering and shame" from the abortions.

The newspaper said Galvez also told the court of a 14-year-old girl who has already had three abortions, showing she is using abortion as a method of birth control.

In April, the court heard from abortion advocates who claimed the unborn child is not a person.

At least one woman has already died from a legal abortion and there could be as many as eight women who have died, the pro-life groups says.


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