As abortion activists maintain a concerted effort against pro-life laws in Latin America, a third state within Mexico has legalized abortion.
According to an El Pais report, the Mexican state of Hidalgo passed a measure June 30th that legalizes abortion on demand, requiring state authorities to guarantee free access to abortions up through 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law also mandates private health centers and women’s prisons to provide abortions. Unusually, the law includes stringent repercussions for anyone attempting to get an abortion after 12 weeks, including fines and up to one year in prison.
A contentious and highly partisan vote preceded the legislation’s passage. Several lawmakers refused to participate in the vote, citing procedural irregularities and claiming that the pro-abortion majority party did not allow sufficient debate of the issue. The measure passed with 16 votes, 11 refusing to participate, one formal abstention, and two lawmakers absent.
READ: Abortion advocates in Chile seek to follow Argentina in legalizing abortion
Hidalgo’s law took effect on July 6 after being published in the state government’s official gazette, and just two years after the Mexican state of Oaxaca became the second to legalize abortion. As Live Action News reported, Oaxaca legalized abortions through 12 weeks of pregnancy in 2019, as did Mexico City in 2007. In the other 29 of Mexico’s 32 states, abortion remains illegal except for cases of rape and, in some cases, for the health of the mother (despite the fact that the deliberate killing of a preborn child is never medically necessary), or fetal malformations.
According to ACI Prensa, the Catholic bishops of Hidalgo issued a statement calling for lawmakers to remember that “for us, life is a gift from God and that all Catholics, as well as good people, have a moral duty to defend the human life of the innocent, from the moment of their conception to their natural end.”
The bishops framed the vote as a betrayal of Mexican values: “Unfortunately, the legislators who hastened and voted on said bill, have fallen into the trap that other interests outside the identity of our people and our state have placed on them.”
Earlier this year, Mexican President Manuel López Obrador unexpectedly intervened to table pro-abortion legislation that would have amended the federal constitution to include the right to abortion, as Live Action News reported. The president held a press conference in which he recommended the controversial proposal be undertaken only after “consultation” of Mexican citizens. Yet pro-life leader Rodrigo Iván Cortés, president of the National Front for the Family, had sounded a note of caution: “We can say that for now this is being sent to the‘ freezer,’ but we must not drop our guard.”
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