By Gudrun Schultz

  MEXICO CITY, April 25, 2007 ( – Mexico City lawmakers voted Tuesday to approve a contentious bill legalizing abortion in the capital, despite massive  opposition from church leaders in the predominantly Catholic country.

  The measure will take effect as soon as it is signed by the city’s mayor, who has backed the proposal. City hospitals will be required to perform abortion on demand during the first trimester of pregnancy—the law will also pave the way for the opening of private abortion clinics.

  A clause in the bill will require girls under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent before undergoing an abortion.

  Opponents of the legislation say the law violates the country’s constitutional protection for the right to life. Pro-life groups have said they will appeal the law to the Mexican Supreme Court.

  The leading Democratic Revolution Party flouted the policies of Mexico President Felipe Calderon and the National Action Party, which has taken a strong pro-life position in the country. President Calderon condemned the Mexico City abortion push.

“We go to great lengths to protect (sea) turtle eggs,” city lawmaker Paula Soto, a Calderon party member, told the Associated Press. “Lucky turtles! It appears they have more people willing to defend them than some unborn children.”

  Catholic leaders took a strong stand on the issue—Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera led a demonstration through the capital against the abortion proposal last month. Cardinal Rivera is expected to make a public statement on the law’s passage on Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter last week to Mexico’s bishops in support of the efforts to prevent the law’s passage—the Pope said Christ’s victory over death was a reason to defend everyone’s right to life “from the first moment of their conception.”

  A law permitting abortion in Mexico City is expected to have an impact on the abortion policies of neighboring Latin American countries, most of whom are experiencing inroads from the efforts of international and local pro-choice groups to influence public opinion in favour of abortion.

  See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Mexico City: Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox Church Leaders Unite in Fight Against Abortion Law

  Mexico City Government Votes Tomorrow on Legalizing Abortion – Pope Sends Letter

  Mexico City Set to Vote to Allow Abortion Despite Pro-Life Constitution

  Mexican Bishop: “If You Vote to Legalize Abortion – You Excommunicate Yourself from the Church”