Sunday, April 27, 2008

Anti-abortion group pushes for amendment

Associated Press
Friday, April 25, 2008 (Mexico City)
Anti- and pro-abortion groups marked the first anniversary since lawmakers voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.

A year ago, lawmakers approved the proposal by a vote of 46-19, with one abstention, requiring city hospitals to provide the procedure in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Girls under 18 would have to get their parents' consent.

The bill was ground breaking for this predominantly Roman Catholic country and set a milestone for the discussion of abortion laws in other Catholic countries in Latin America.

Elsewhere in Mexico, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, severe birth defects or if the woman's life is at risk, and doctors sometimes even deny the procedure under those circumstances.

The bill's approval stirred a bitter and emotional debate in the country that has continued one year later.

An anti-abortion group, Pro-Vida (Pro-Life), held a demonstration on Thursday morning in front of Mexico City's Assembly.

The group lit 7,200 candles on the steps of the building, representing what it said was the number of abortions practiced in Mexico City's hospitals during the past twelve months.

The demonstration began at 5 am and lasted for an hour.

On Wednesday, officials from the city government celebrated the first anniversary of the bill's approval.

''I hope nobody has ever next to him an adolescent that has to stop a pregnancy, and cannot do it due to moral issues or because of family principles and can't make valid their right to decide, so here we are celebrating a whole year of been able to exercise our right to decide,'' said Marta Lucia Micher, the director of the Women's Institute in the capital.

At the time the bill was published into law, the city's health secretary Manuel Mondragon said that except in cases of medical emergency, women would have to prove residency in the capital.

Mondragon was addressing the widespread belief that the law would make the capital a magnet for women across Mexico seeking abortions.

Mexico City has a population of almost 20 (m) million people.

The city and its suburbs are home to about one-fifth of the country's population, and many Mexicans travel to the capital for medical treatment.

The procedure is almost free for poor or for city residents without health insurance.

The only countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with legalised abortion for all women are Cuba and Guyana.

Most others allow it only in cases of rape or when the woman's life is at risk.

Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chile ban it completely.