[JURIST] Legislators in Mexico City [official website] have begun deliberations on a bill that would legalize abortions [JURIST news archive] during the first trimester of pregnancy. The bill, proposed by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) [official website, in Spanish], would loosen Mexico's strict abortion laws within the boundary of the capital city. Abortion is generally illegal throughout the heavily Roman Catholic country, with exceptions only for cases of rape. Mexico City previously loosened the country's restriction to allow abortions when the health of the mother was in danger. Conservatives in the country, including Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website] and his National Action Party (PAN) [official website] are heavily opposed to any change of abortion law, and have vowed to fight the bill in court. The PRD holds a majority (34 out of 66) of Mexico City's legislative seats, as well as the mayor's office.
Supporters of the bill say that the current laws endanger poor women who, unlike wealthier Mexicans, cannot afford to travel to the United States for the surgery and so must resort to unsafe back-alley abortions. Last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] conducted an extensive study of abortion availability for rape victims in Mexico [study text; press release], finding that rape victims seeking legal abortions often are intimidated with insults and threats of legal retaliation by both prosecutors and health workers. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.