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04.24.07 - Tuesday, April 24, 2007, New York, NY USA -- Today Mexico City's legislature voted to make abortion legal in the first trimester, a landmark decision in a region where the procedure is highly restricted. This important change should dramatically decrease the number of women who die or suffer complications from unsafe abortions every year in Mexico City. And though it is groundbreaking, the Mexico City vote aligns with recent progress toward abortion liberalization, both in the region and across the globe.
"In passing this law, the legislature has recognized the pressing need to address abortion as a public health issue," said Lilian Sepúlveda, the Legal Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law should enable a woman to go to her doctor's office and get the treatment that is in her best interest, without the interference of political or personal ideologies."
The Center for Reproductive Rights (The Center), a global legal advocacy organization, has helped to catalyze a cascade of progress in the region. Last year, the Center and its partners (Alaide Foppa and Information Group on Reproductive Choice) reached a friendly settlement with the Mexican government before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on behalf of a 13-year-old rape victim who was denied a legal abortion, which helped move the country's abortion debate beyond taboo status. This case, Paulina Ramírez v. Mexico, marked the first time a Latin American government acknowledged that access to legal abortion is a human right.
A few months earlier in K.L. v. Peru-a complaint brought by the Center, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights, and the Counseling Center for the Defense of Women's Rights-the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a decision holding Peru accountable for failing to protect a young woman forced by state health officials to carry a fatally-impaired fetus to term. In another legal victory in the region, Colombia's highest court ruled last May that abortion must be permitted when a pregnancy threatens a woman's life or health, in cases of rape, and when the fetus has fatal abnormalities. Until then, Colombia had prohibited abortion under any circumstance.
"Mexico City has taken a huge leap forward in its region," said Luisa Cabal, Director of the Center's International Legal Program. "Like other governments, the Mexican legislature should be commended for recognizing a woman's reproductive rights as human rights."
In the region, abortion at a woman's request in the first trimester is legal in only Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guyana. Three other countries - Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua - ban it without even allowing exceptions for a woman's life or health. Mexico City's new law permits abortion at a woman's request during the first trimester.
To speak to Dionne Scott on today's Mexico City vote, please call 917-637-3649 (office) or (917) 733-4357 (cell), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.