Mexican president considers abortion referendum
Andres Manuel López Obrador did a good job keeping the abortion issue out of his campaign for president of Mexico last year. But he might be confronting it now.
At a recent celebration for International Women’s Day, the Mexican President had to deflect charges that he wants a referendum on abortion.
According to Mexico News Daily, López Obrador, at an International Women’s Day event at the National Palace, said his administration will never seek to restrict women’s freedoms. But he said that referenda will be used to democratically resolve controversial issues.
“We can’t forcefully declare ourselves [in favor of or against] an issue because this is a democratic movement and we represent all the schools of thought and all women, believers and non-believers,” López Obrador said March 8.
In response, a group of women wearing green handkerchiefs—which has become the symbol of the campaign for abortion rights in Latin American countries—shouted, “rights are not up for consultation.”
Citizens’ Movement lawmaker Martha Tagle, accompanying the protestors, said she is seeking “a clearer position” from López Obrador “on issues such as violence against women,” a reference to abortion rights in cases of rape.
Rocío Gálvez, president of Comité Nacional Pro-Vida in Mexico City, said in an interview that according to Mexican law, if 23 state constitutions protect life from conception, it’s possible to enact a federal law to protect life from conception.
There are 21 states that protect life in their constitution from the moment of conception. Only Mexico City permits abortion—up to 12 weeks of gestation.
Gálvez said that although López Obrador has not taken a public stand on abortion, he has appointed pro-abortion officials to two key government posts. He is not likely to call for a referendum anytime soon, Gálvez said, because he is asking the Catholic Church in Mexico to help “make peace in the states, to lower the levels of violence we are experiencing in the whole country.”
Some lawmakers in the ruling Morena party, which is led by the president, are calling for women to be able to legally access abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The party is divided over the issue, however. Lilly Téllez, a Morena party senator from Sonora, is vehemently opposed to legalizing abortion.
“A woman who aborts is punishing herself in a very severe way, she’s a criminal, she’s murdering a baby,” she said, according to Mexico Daily News.