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MEXICO
Limited progress in reproductive rights
Latinamerica Press
11/8/2013
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Morelos might be second state to legalize abortion after Mexico City.

Morelos, located in South-Central Mexico, could become the second state in the country where abortion is legalized. So far only the federal district of Mexico City permits abortion at request of the woman for non-medical reasons during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, while in the rest of the country women can only legally abort when they have been raped.

Due to the federal system in Mexico the states can independently decide whether and for what reason they legalize abortion. In Morelos abortion is presently punished with jail sentences up to five years. 

During the third Latin-American congress on legal reproductive rights, held in Cuernavaca, capital of Morelos, from Oct. 14-16, Jorge Messeguer, minister of the local government in Morelos stated that “[We] are not going to criminalize a woman who for various reasons has suffered an abortion. They will not be sent to prison and it will be made possible that their right to decide about their bodies will be respected.”

Legalizing abortion was one of the campaign pledges of Graco Ramirez, current governor of Morelos from the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). Yet passing the law amendments might be difficult as the changes not only depend on the government´s decision but also on the approval of the state congress where parties in favor of abortion do not have the necessary majority. The right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Mexican´s president Enrique Peña Nieto, however, is not unanimously against abortion. The president himself stated during his election campaign in 2012 that although he was in favor of life he was not in favor of criminalizing women who decided to abort. 
 
Unsafe abortions
According to a recent report on reproductive rights in Mexico by the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), Mexico has one of the highest figures of induced abortions in the world. In 2009 for example, 1,025,669 induced abortions in women aged between 15 and 44 were documented. Access to safe abortion, however, is scarce. In 2010, 11 percent of maternal death was caused by abortion. In Mexico City, since de adoption of legal abortion in 2007 there were about 100,000 legal abortions, without having recorded deaths from causes related to this procedure.

Despite the example of Mexico City, 16 states have opted for tightening measures in order to make it more difficult for women to abort. Between 2009 and 2011 GIRE documented 679 cases in 24 federal states in which women were denounced for having tried to abort. Some were sent to prison serving sentences between four months and six years while others were remanded in custody under precarious conditions despite the fact that it was not proven that the miscarriage from which some of them suffered was self-induced.

Legal abortions in rape cases are often not performed due to limited access and lack of information in rural areas of federal states.

“Therefore, access to abortion depends on the place of residence of the woman as well as on her social-economic status, which additionally turns the topic of abortion in Mexico into a topic of social justice and gender discrimination” the report states. It further points out that the risk of having an insecure abortion is nine times higher for indigenous women and stresses the fact that women who are legally allowed to undergo abortion also take to insecure abortion due to lack of facilities.
—Latinamerica Press.


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