Mexico City's Legislature Debates Bill Legalizing First Trimester Abortions

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 9:06 pm

By: News On 6

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexico City legislators are debating a bill that would legalize abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, a measure that would be the first of its kind in this heavily Roman Catholic nation.

The bill is supported by the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, which holds the mayorship and a majority in the city's legislature, and it could be approved in the coming months, lawmakers said.

Mexico City, with a population of 8.7 million, is a federal district similar to Washington, D.C., with its own legislature.

The Roman Catholic Church and officials with the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon have promised to block the proposal. They claim that abortion violates articles in the Constitution protecting life and say they will oppose the bill in court if necessary.

Jorge Serrano, president of the National Pro-Life Committee, argued that legalizing abortion would encourage more women to terminate their pregnancies.

``The more women who have abortions, the more women and babies will die,'' Serrano said. ``The risks will increase.''

Under current Mexico City law, abortion is only permitted if the pregnancy endangers a woman's life or if the woman has been raped.

Proponents of the bill say these restrictions force women to seek abortions outside the law. While wealthier women travel to the United States for the procedure, poorer women must remain in Mexico and have back-street operations, supporters said.

``Some even carry out the abortions themselves because they have no other alternative,'' said Victor Cirigo, a Democratic Revolution legislator who helped the draft the bill.

About 90 percent of Mexicans consider themselves Roman Catholic, but many have increasingly liberal views on issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

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