Page 5, 5th September 2008

5th September 2008
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Page 5, 5th September 2008 — Mexican court rejects challenge to abortion law
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Mexican court rejects challenge to abortion law

BY DAVID AGREN IN MEXICO CITY

THE MEXICAN Supreme Court has upheld a Mexico City abortion law after eight of the II justices refused to consider a constitutional challenge.

Catholic officials across Mexico expressed sadness at the decision, but also promised to focus their attention on better serving pregnant women who might be considering abortion. The Supreme Court "can make a crime legal. but it can never make moral the abominable murder of innocent children in the womb," said Cardinal Norberto Rivera Cancers of Mexico City.

He said the court was endorsing "an immoral law that not only decriminalises abortion, but also hurts and infringes the fundamental rights of being human".

Earlier in the same week the court ruled that the Mexico City Assembly had the authority to pass legislation legalising abortion. The decision emboldened proponents of the law that allows abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some members of the Democratic Revolution Party, which governs Mexico City promised to promote similar measures in the country's 31 states. Already, the southern state of Gum rem has proposed legislation that would legalise abortion.

But analysts expressed doubts that many stateseven the five states ruled by the Democratic Revolution Party would rush to overturn laws that permit abortion only under limited circumstances and said campaigning on the decriminalisation of the procedure would prove politically unprofitable in most places.

"It's never been a campaign issue in Mexico," said Jeffrey Weldon, director of the political science programme at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a private university in Mexico City. "Now that it's been made law. it could galvanise some groups." Mr Weldon added that some factions of the Democratic Revolution Party are uncomfortable with issues like abortion. Former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, perhaps the party's most prominent figure, failed to raise abortion as a topic during . the last federal election or promote the issue during his term as Mexico City mayor earlier in this decade.

The Social Democratic Party, also a proponent of the Mexico City law, championed the abertion issue during a 2006 eketion campaign that was based on highlighting contentious social issues like gay rights and drug legalisation. The party barely captured two per cent of the popular vote, but the maverick approach won it a constituency and the right to partake in public subsidies available only to registered political parties. The Supreme Court must still deliver its written ruling on the constitutional challenge.




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