Dear Legislators of Guanajuato:

We are writing to you with deep concern for the human rights and reproductive health of women in Guanajuato, particularly the lack of access to safe, legal abortion in cases of pregnancies resulting from rape, and the prosecution of women who arrive at public hospitals for post-abortion care, and the pending constitutional reform to "protect life from the moment of conception."  All of these constitute violations of basic human rights of women and girls, including their rights to life, the highest attainable standards of health, autonomy, dignity, and security.

We urge you to vote against the proposed constitutional reforms. Far from protecting women's and girls' lives, these measures will serve to further limit even nominal access to basic healthcare services, will harm pregnant survivors of rape and sexual violence,  and could actually endanger the health and lives of women and girls who need access to abortion and contraception services.

Instead, we urge you to work to ensure all girls and women of reproductive age have access to safe and reliable contraception, to ensure timely, safe access to legal abortion for survivors of rape, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that the perpetrators of rape and sexual violence are brought to justice. As a result, we hope that during 2009 we will see a decrease in the number of unwanted pregnancies, and an increase in the number of women who obtain access to legal abortions. As key decision makers, we urge you to do everything in your power to respect the right of women to access such services confidentially and safely.

Lack of access to bonafide reproductive healthcare services, including legal abortion following rape, is a violation of the fundamental human rights of women. Ironically in Guanajuato, not only do women with a legal right to an abortion fail to realize they can access public healthcare services or are refused opportune treatment, but also women who go to public hospitals risk being arrested for seeking post-abortion care under the suspicion of having induced an abortion. The policy of prosecuting women for inducing an abortion doesconstitute a violation of a number of women's fundamental human rights, as does prohibiting all forms of abortion. (For background information on international human rights law and abortion in Latin America, please see the Human Rights Watch website at https://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/americas/argentina0605/.) Policies that restrict access to legal abortion are not in the best public health interests of women and girls, nor are they congruent with international human rights standards.

We urge you to carefully consider the full respect, promotion and protection of women's human rights in this pending decision and act accordingly. Thank you for your immediate attention to and consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

Human Rights Watch

International Women's Health Coalition

Gynuity Health Projects

Center for Health and Gender Equity-CHANGE

Center for Reproductive Rights

International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region

Margaret Sanger Center International at Planned Parenthood of New York City