Mexican State Legislators Seek to Define Personhood as Being from Conception

Amendment to constitution would eliminate exceptions in state's abortion ban
Wed Jul 23, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

 By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

GUANAJUATO, Mexico, July 23 2008 ( - Legislators from the National Action Party of Guanajuato are seeking to amend the state’s constitution to declare that personhood extends from conception to natural death.

The amendment reads: "With regard to this Constitution and the laws that emanate from it, a person is any human being from conception until natural death, and the State will guarantee to him the complete enjoyment and exercise of all of his rights."

Abortion is illegal for most purposes in every state in Mexico except for Mexico City, which legalized abortion last year up to the twelfth week of gestation for any reason.

Although abortion carries criminal penalties in the State of Guanajuato, the state’s criminal code contains an exception in rape cases.  If passed, the new amendment could change that.

"The right to life is an inviolable natural right inherent in all human beings, since it is the foundation of all other rights, and therefore should be respected, guaranteed, and protected by the state," the legislators write in an accompanying text.

"Medical science has demonstrated that in a fertilized ovum there is a new human life, because nothing happens during the period of gestation that modifies or complements its essence," the legislators explain.  They also state that "from the point of view of ethics and law, societies should always protect the weakest members."

The legislators cite international treaties to which Mexico is a party, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Treaty on Civil and Political Rights, in support of the right to life.

Responding to pro-abortion opposition from the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), representative Chico Goerne told local newspaper A.M. that "the right to life can’t be halfway, as the PRD is proposing in a sense."

"They defend the idea that the death penalty is not applied to criminals but on the other hand they shamelessly promote laws like the abortion law in the Federal District (Mexico City) which is promoting death in a sense because it is clear that a life is present that isn’t the life of the mother," he added.

Although the amendment does not yet have sufficient votes for passage, its supporters are seeking to convince members of other political parties to sign on.

"We’re working, searching for other legislators who might share this idea in other parties," Goerne told A.M.

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