Dominated by liberals, Mexico City's legislature is expected to legalize abortion in a few weeks. The bill would make this city one of the largest entities in Latin America to break with a long tradition of women resorting to illegal clinics and midwives to end unwanted pregnancies.
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."
Abortion, a perennial hot-button issue, will make its debut for this legislative session this afternoon when the House State Affairs Committee hears several related bills.
One, House Bill 175 by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, would outlaw the procedure in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court were to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in 1973. A companion bill, SB 186 by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, hasn't been heard yet.
Interestingly, the nine-member panel includes only one woman, Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston.