Mexfam Thrives Despite Threats to Safe Abortion in Mexico

Mandy Van Deven, Online Administrator

Last week The Nation published a story on "Mexico's Anti-Abortion Backlash." In the article, writer Mary Cuddehe examines the criminalization of abortion in Mexico and how the recent "personhood amendment" push in the United States bears strong similarities to anti-abortion strategies enacted by our southern neighbor. When discussing the impact Mexico's anti-abortion laws are having on women's health and safety, Cuddehe writes:

...state prosecutors dusted off the old abortion penal codes—most of which call for prison terms or fines—and opened investigations: ten in Veracruz, thirty in Puebla and thirty-one in Hidalgo. In 2009 in the southern state of Quintana Roo, a Mayan woman was wrongfully jailed for what turned out to be a spontaneous miscarriage, and in 2010 an 11-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather was denied an abortion because she was four months pregnant—one month past the allowable twelve weeks.

Since 2008, 18 of Mexico's 31 states changed their constitutions to legally establish that life starts at conception. During that same period, 130 people in those states were sentenced for seeking or providing abortion services.

Fortunately, abortion is legal in Mexico City during the first 12 weeks of gestation, and IPPF/WHR's Member Association in Mexico, Mexfam, plays a leading role in providing safe abortion services to women and adolescents. In addition to providing legal abortion services in Mexico City, Mexfam also works to reduce the public health impact of unsafe abortion in states where the law is more restrictive. Mexfam's work to reduce maternal mortality was highlighted just last month by ABC's "20/20."

Mexfam's high quality sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptive distribution and Ob/Gyn services, brings rural and marginalized populations lifesaving health care to which they would not otherwise have access. Although obstacles remain, Mexfam is a leading service provider and advocate of sexual and reproductive health rights for all Mexicans.


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