The Mexico City bill would make it legal to have an abortion during the first trimester for any reason. The procedure would be free at city health facilities. Private hospitals would be required to provide an abortion to any woman who asks for one, though doctors with religious or ethical objections would not be required to perform abortions.
Catholic leaders and church officials have denounced the proponents as “baby killers” and have warned that the law could provoke violence against doctors who agree to provide the service. A group of Catholic lawyers are pushing for a citywide referendum on the issue, hoping to avert the vote in the city Legislative Assembly.
Leftists and feminists, meanwhile, have accused opponents of turning a blind eye to reality. They say millions of women here, and indeed throughout much of Latin America, already ignore the law and choose to abort fetuses, often in dingy underground clinics or the private homes of midwives. They risk infection, sterility and sometimes death.
“Women are dying, above all poor women, because of unsafe abortions,” said María Consuelo Mejía, the director of Catholics for the Right to Decide. “What we would like is that these women never have to confront the necessity of an abortion, but in this society it’s impossible right now. There is no access to information, to contraceptives. Nor do most women have the power to negotiate the use of contraceptives with their partners.”