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Mexico City legislators vote to legalize abortion

[JURIST] Mexico City [official website, in Spanish] legislators Tuesday passed a bill 46-19 that would legalize abortion within the city. The bill, proposed [JURIST report] by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) [official website, in Spanish], will require city hospitals to provide the procedure in the first trimester, although abortions after 12 weeks would still be illegal. Girls under 18 would have to get their parents' consent. The bill now goes to the city's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard [Wikipedia profile], who is expected to sign it. Abortion opponents will probably appeal the law to the Supreme Court.

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 strongly opposed to any change of abortion law, and have vowed to appeal the law to the Supreme Court. 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 those seeking legal abortions often are intimidated with insults and threats of legal retaliation by both prosecutors and health workers. AP has more.

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