Mexico City legalizes abortion
MEXICO CITY – Mexico City lawmakers voted to legalize abortion Tuesday, a decision likely to influence policies and health practices across Mexico and other parts of heavily Roman Catholic Latin America.The proposal, approved 46-19, with one abstention, would take effect with the expected signing by the federal district’s leftist mayor. But abortion opponents have already vowed to appeal the law to the Supreme Court, a move likely to extend the bitter and emotional debate in this predominantly Catholic nation.The law alarmed Mexico’s conservative ruling party and prompted the Vatican to send its top anti-abortion campaigner to the Mexican capital, where ranks of riot police separated chanting throngs of demonstrators from both sides outside the city legislature.Nationally, Mexico allows abortion only in cases of rape, severe birth defects or if the woman’s life is at risk, and doctors sometimes even deny the procedure under those circumstances.The new law will require city hospitals to provide the procedure and opens the way for private abortion clinics. Girls under 18 would have to get their parents’ consent.The procedure will be almost free for poor or insured city residents, but is unlikely to attract patients from the United States, where later-term abortion is legal in many states. Under the Mexico City law, abortion after 12 weeks would be punished by three to six months in jail.The only other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with legalized abortion for all women are Cuba and Guyana. Most others allow it only in cases of rape or when the woman’s life is at risk. Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chile ban it completely.