By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

OAXACA CITY, September 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Congress of the Mexican state of Oaxaca has voted to adopt a pro-life amendment to the state's constitution with an overwhelming majority of 31-6.

The amendment states that "Every human being from the moment of fertilization enters under the protection of the law and is considered the same as one who has been born for all legal effects until his natural death," according to the Mexican newspaper Milennio.

It adds: "In protecting the right to life of every human being in express form from fertilization and until natural death, we are seeking to strengthen the family, which is undoubtedly based on the nuclear family consisting of parents and children, this institution being one of the bases upon which respect for the right to life of everyone must begin, achieving the promotion of a culture of respect."

Oaxaca is the sixteenth Mexican state to pass such an amendment in the last year, in a wave of pro-life legislation that has come in reaction to the depenalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007. With the approval of the measure, more than half of Mexico's 31 states now have pro-life amendments.

Although pro-abortion activists hoped that the Mexico City law would be followed by similar reforms at the state level, state governments have reacted instead by shoring up the protection for the unborn, establishing it firmly in their constitutions in order to protect themselves from such initiatives.

The Excelsior newspaper reports that a fistfight between pro-abortion activists and congressional security forces broke out during the debate. 

Ana Maria Hernandez Cardenas, the President of the Consortium for Parliamentary Dialog and Equity in Oaxaca, called it "shameful that in this entity, where secularism began, is legislating based on moral criteria."

Herandez Cardenas is referring to the fact that Mexico's famous president Benito Juarez, an ultraliberal who confiscated the properties of the Catholic Church and attacked its legal prerogatives in the mid-nineteenth century, was from Oaxaca.