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Mexican State of Puebla Approves Pro-Life Amendment to Constitution

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman,

PUEBLA, March 13, 2009 ( – Despite fierce opposition, political maneuvering, and disruptive protests meant to stop the process, the Congress of the Mexican State of Puebla has approved an amendment protecting the right to life "from the moment of conception to natural death, except in cases foreseen by law."

The amendment, which was passed 29-10 with two abstentions, will prevent abortion from being legalized in Puebla in imitation of the 2007 Mexico City abortion law, which allows abortion on demand throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

However, the amendment will leave exceptions to the criminalization of abortion in the state’s criminal code intact. Currently, all Mexican states have laws depenalizing abortion in cases such as rape or fetal deformity.

The vote was held despite political maneuvers on the part of individuals within the predominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose membership split over the vote.

The head of the PRI faction in the national Congress sent several representatives to urge fellow party members not to vote for the measure. In addition, several representatives from liberal and socialist parties flew by helicopter to speak to the state’s governor, claiming the amendment would violate the state’s constitution, according to the Jornada del Oriente newspaper.

Homosexual and feminist protestors clogged the area outside of the Congress, and even entered the floor in an attempt to block the movement of legislators. They were removed by police, who set up a barricade.

However, despite the pressure, a 20-4 majority of PRI members voted for the amendment, reflecting similar pro-life attitudes among PRI legislators across the country. The amendment was voted for unanimously by members of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

Members of the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), however, said they would appeal to Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice to overturn the law, claiming that it violates international human rights agreements signed by Mexico. Critics of such claims say that pro-abortion forces are reading abortion rights into such agreements, which do not mention the "right" to kill the unborn.

However, the Supreme Court may agree to accept the case. It recently accepted a suit against another, similar amendment passed recently in the state of Baja California.

The passage of the amendment makes Puebla the sixth state to approve a pro-life amendment to its constitution in recent months. The movement to enact such amendments stems from efforts by some members of the PRD to extend Mexico City’s law approving abortion on demand to Mexico’s 31 states. Pro-life legislators are seeking to ensure that such legislation will be impossible.