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MEXICO CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Abortion could become legal in Mexico, as lawmakers are considering a new national criminal code.
A draft of the proposed new code has been leaked to the press. Pro-lifers in the predominantly Catholic country are concerned that the code omits an entire section of the current law that makes abortion illegal.
In addition, a section of the new code addressing family violence says it is illegal to infringe upon "reproductive rights," including "access to services for the legal termination of pregnancy" — a clear reference to abortion.
"This is extremely worrisome," Rodrigo Iván Cortés, president of the National Front for the Family, told ACI Prensa. "This would go against more than 20 state constitutions in the republic. And this would be an atrocious attack on human life, the fundamental right to exist."
Updating the criminal code was one of several reforms promised by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
An online pro-life petition to Mexico's president calls on him to defend the helpless unborn.
The text of the petition (in Spanish) addresses President López, saying, "I am writing to you with concern because the radicals of your cabinet want to impose the legalization of abortion through the first national criminal code."
On the CitizenGo page where people sign their petition, organizers state, "We cannot allow the López Obrador government to legalize abortion under the pretext of changing criminal justice."
They call the proposed criminal code a "regression," arguing, "The relevance of this national criminal code is that state criminal codes that currently exist would disappear."
The petition had more than 24,000 signatures as of press time.
Abortion is largely illegal in Mexico currently. Most states in the country only allow abortion in cases of rape and threats to the life of the mother. But two jurisdictions, Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca, have broadly decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
In February 2019, a bill was introduced to Mexico's Chamber of Deputies — the lower house of the Mexican Congress — that sought to enshrine so-called reproductive rights by reforming the country's constitution. But pro-lifers pushed back, and debate over the bill was tabled by two committees.
Mexico is a largely Catholic country, with 90% of the population saying they were raised Catholic and 81% still identifying as Catholic, according to 2014 data from the Pew Research Center. (Other sources give similar percentages. For instance, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook lists 82.7% of Mexico's population as Catholic, citing 2010 estimates.)
Pew's 2014 study also found that 44% of Mexico's Catholics attend Mass weekly. Similar percentages for Mass attendance are common throughout Latin America.