Mexico Supreme Court Votes to Uphold Mexico City Law Allowing Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 28, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mexico Supreme Court Votes to Uphold Mexico City Law Allowing Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 28
, 2008

Mexico City, Mexico ( — The Mexico Supreme Court has issued its final decision on a lawsuit against the capital’s abortion law and ruled it constitutional. The high court ruled 8-3 that the law allowing abortions in the federal district in the first 12 weeks is allowed and pro-life groups worry about the effect of the decision.

Mexico’s Attorney General, Eduardo Medina Mora-Icaza, brought a suit seeking to overturn the law in May 2007. At the same time, the president of the National Human Rights Commission began a parallel challenge.

In the ruling, Justice Guillermo Ortiz said the court’s ruling should be examined narrowly and that it was only saying Mexico City has the right to legalize abortion and that the decision doesn’t necessarily extend to the nation as a whole.

The decision appeared to relate more to the fact that the Federal District is distinct in its setup from the Mexican states and can make its own abortion laws rather than saying abortion is constitutional in and of itself.

Mexico City is one of the few places in Latin America where abortions are legal and pro-life advocates worry the ruling will open the door for legalizing abortion throughout Mexico and in other nations.

President Felipe Calderon, who is pro-life, has said he would not sign a law to allow abortions throughout the country, but that could change if he is defeated by a pro-abortion candidate in the next election.

Catholic leaders have responded to the decision by saying the Church is in a period of mourning.

They told the Associated Press they will increase the efforts in their campaign on behalf of "the millions of children who are being sacrificed."

"This tragedy we are living in Mexico City is going to spread to other states," Jorge Serrano, director of the nation’s largest pro-life group, told AP. He called the ruling "a betrayal of the right to life."

The Mexico City abortion law allows physicians in the public hospitals to refuse to do abortions and pro-life advocates indicated they will call on more physicians to opt out of doing them.

So far, more than 12,000 women have had abortions at the city’s 14 public hospitals and at least one teenager girl died from a botched abortion, though pro-life advocates say there have been more undocumented deaths.

Piero A. Tozzi, an attorney with the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a pro-life group that lobbies at the UN and monitors abortion on international scale, talked with about the decision.

"The legal argument with more far-reaching implications, however, is one that both pro- and anti-abortion sides have appealed to: the effect that international treaties incorporated into Mexico’s internal law have on abortion legislation," he said.

"Pro-lifers allege that the liberalized law violates international treaties such as the American Convention on Human Rights, otherwise known as the ‘San Jose Pact’ which specifically states that legal protection of the right to life should exist ‘in general from the moment of conception.’"

He said C-FAM had circulated an informal legal memorandum among the Supreme Court justices.

"The memorandum pointed out that the text of no international treaty requires states to decriminalize abortion. Rather, they are consistent with protection of unborn human life, regardless of interpretations suggested by unelected and unaccountable treaty bodies having no authority to rewrite the domestic legislation of sovereign states," he told

Lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights in the US argued the documents protect a right to abortion.

"Such arguments rest principally on interpretations made by various treaty monitoring bodies charged with overseeing treaty implementation, rather than the text of the treaties themselves," Tozzi said.

Tozzi indicated Amnesty International also submitted documents in favor of the Mexico City abortion law.

Tozi indicated that pro-life advocates had considered a legal referendum to overturn the law but Wenceslao Renovales, a Mexican attorney who has followed the case closely, told the groups’ Friday Fax publican that legal obstacles foreclose that possibility.

Related web sites:
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute –


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