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The Legislative Assembly of Mexico’s Federal District should support the partial decriminalization of abortion currently under consideration, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the deputies.

“Safe and legal access to abortion is a human rights concern,” said LaShawn R. Jefferson, director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch. “All of our experiences have shown that women suffer terrible consequences when access to abortion is blocked and criminalized. The deputies should vote with this in mind.”

Currently, abortion is considered a crime in all of Mexico’s jurisdictions, including the Federal District, although all jurisdictions grant some exceptions. In the Federal District, exceptions to punitive responsibility for abortions are considered in the following situations: in cases of rape; when the pregnant woman’s health is in grave danger; in cases of genetic deformities incompatible with life outside the uterus; and, when the abortion is the result of the pregnant woman’s negligent behavior (conducta culposa).

A broadening of acceptable motives is under consideration, to permit legal abortion during the first trimester in cases in which the pregnancy is incompatible with the pregnant woman’s life plan. The deputies are also considering reforms to improve access to contraceptives and to sex education and information. Government statistics indicate that every year 400,000 Mexican adolescents carry a pregnancy to term – many of which occur in the Federal District and are unwanted pregnancies.

“The truth is that nobody gets pregnant to be able to have an abortion,” said Jefferson. It’s also true that each woman – and each adolescent – who needs an abortion has a human right to have it carried out under safe conditions. The proposed reforms could contribute to lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies and guaranteeing the minimal conditions for unavoidable abortions. Their adoption would be a big step for Mexican women.”

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