Politicians in Mexico City have sent shockwaves across Latin America by voting to legalise abortion. The new law, which was sponsored by the left and applies only to the capital, allows women to abort in the first three months of pregnancy. The proposal provoked intense and emotional debate across the largely Catholic country in the run-up to the vote. Church leaders threatened to excommunicate leftist deputies who voted in favour of lifting the abortion ban. But supporters celebrated the outcome nonetheless.
Opinion polls show the country evenly split over abortion. Pro-choice campaigners say 2,000 women die each year in Mexico in back-street abortions. Anti-abortion activists say a foetus three months into pregnancy is a human being, with a beating heart and visible limbs. Conservatives have said they will challenge Mexico City’s decision in the Supreme Court. But for their part, leftist politicians in the capital have filed a proposal in Congress for a national abortion law.