By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

COLIMA, Mexico, February 18, 2009 ( – In an overwhelming 19-0 vote, legislators in the state of Colima, Mexico, decided Tuesday to amend the state’s constitution to protect the right to life “from the moment of conception.”

Article one of the state’s constitution now reads: “Life is a right inherent in every human being.  The State will protect and guarantee this right from the moment of conception.  The family constitutes the fundamental base of society.   The State will encourage its organization and development.  For the same reason, the home, and particularly the children, will be the object of special protection on the part of the authorities.  Every measure or disposition for protecting the family will be considered to relate to public order…”

The vote was held in response to an attempt by a socialist legislator from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) to legalize abortion on demand, following similar legislation passed in Mexico City in 2007.  The legislature instead rejected the bill in a 17-1 vote last month, and has now acted to secure the rights of the unborn in the state from further assault.

The ultraliberal Proceso magazine openly attributed the victory to the influence of the Catholic Bishop of Colima (the capital of the state), Jose Luis Amezcua. The bishop organized a “march for life” in response to the legalization bill last month, and said that “the Congress needs to take to heart the approval of the constitutional reform to introduce into the document the idea that life begins from conception…”

However, the sponsors of the amendment denied that religion was the motivation behind the bill.  “Medically it is established that the protection of the right to life should be awarded from the moment of the conception, and not as a dogma, but because medical science affirms that when the first chromosomic division occurs, immediately after ovular fertilization, the resulting genotype confers individuality on the new person,” wrote the congressional committee that approved the measure.

Sponsors of the amendment included the Colima Governor Silverio Cavazos Ceballos (of the Institutional Revolutionary Party), a representative of the pro-Catholic National Action Party, and an independent legislator.  The sponsor of the original bill to legalize abortion on demand, Adolfo Nunez Gonzales, abstained in the final vote.

Similar amendments have been passed recently in the states of Baja California, Sonora, and Morelos.  However, the constitutionality of the Baja California amendment is now being contested in the nation’s Supreme Court.  If the Court rules negatively in the case, all similar amendments could be negated as well, making it impossible to defend the right to life at the state level.

Previous coverage:

Pro-Abortion Forces Sue to Overturn State Pro-Life Amendment in Mexican Supreme Court

Mexican State of Colima Rejects Legalization of Abortion 19-1

Mexican State of Sonora Passes Pro-Life Constitutional Amendment