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MEXICO: The Catholic Church and Abortion

Mexican TV today devoted most of a news program to the abortion issue. A poll showed that public opinion held by a vote of 9 to 1 that the decision should be made by the woman rather than by the state . Only a small percentage said it should be left up to "other institutions" (the Church). The Guanajuato state legislature got unusual publicity, with the PAN majority outvoting the rest. Known for its display of mummies, Guanajuato may now become famous for its assembly of living ones.

There were crowds of protesting women. Two girls were interviewed, one who had chosen an abortion, one who had not. Both agreed that having a child made getting a job difficult. The case of the one who had a child was especially touching, since she seemed desperate for money.

However, most distressing was the interview with Marķa Elena Jacinto and the daughter Paulina, the 13-year old Mexicali girl who had been raped by a drug addict and refused a divorce because of Church influence. She faced a dilemma. She loved her baby as a brother, but could not view him as her child. Prospects for a job and marriage were dim, and the money the government had given her came in bonds which would help the child but not her.

The Church was clearly the loser. Presumably by coincidence Vicente Fox was a far away as possible, in Argentina enjoying the limelight and making plans for free trade between the two countries. Mexico may end up belonging to NAFTA and having free trade pacts with both the European Union and Mercosur. It would enjoy the best of all possible worlds, but what this would do to the three systems was not clear. Nor was it clear how the trilateral structure Fox government-Pan party and Church would end up. Would one or two have a divorce or an abortion?

Ronald Hilton - 8/09/00