October 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a tense vote last week that brought Mexico to the precipice of it’s own “Roe v. Wade,” the country narrowly avoided a verdict that would have annihilated 18 state right-to-life amendments and declared the killing of the unborn a “human right.”
In votes on September 29th and 30th, the Supreme Court declined to strike down constitutional amendments in the states of Baja California and San Luis Potosí protecting the right to life from the moment of conception.
The decision was met with relief and jubilation by pro-lifers and human rights activists, who feared the worst following a proposed verdict by justice Fernando Franco, which postulated that unborn children are not persons, and that the right to life interferes with the “dignity” of women. Approval of the verdict would have meant the end to protections for the unborn, enshrining pro-abortion rhetoric in Mexican constitutional jurisprudence.
However, the narrowness of the victory, which places the Court within a hair’s breadth of legalizing abortion, is only the latest sign that the international abortion lobby is winning the political, legal, and cultural battle to legitimize the practice of abortion in Mexico, the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world.
Although the Supreme Court failed to strike down the two state constitutional amendments, the victory was won by only a single vote, with a strong majority of justices favoring the opposite verdict.
Mexico’s constitution requires a supermajority of eight of eleven justices to strike down a state constitutional amendment. Seven of the eleven justices favored doing so, and only a minority of four prevented it from happening.
As justice Olga Sanchez Cordero, one of the seven who supported abortion as a “right,” observed in an interview following the vote, nothing was finally resolved by the decision.
Although Sanchez Cordero admitted that all laws have the presumption of constitutionality, she noted that the court had not arrived at a definitive decision on the state pro-life amendments. Such a decision would require an eight-member majority.
“This isn’t over until it’s over,” Sanchez Cordero told a radio interviewer, adding that women could still have recourse to the courts if they wished to have abortions.
Narrow defeat obscures clear victory for abortion supporters
Although the Supreme Court vote was a technical defeat, it represented a massive shift on the court only three years after a solid majority had held that the states had the right to make their own decisions on the legality of abortion. In only two years, the Court has shifted from a 7-4 majority in favor of permitting the states to prohibit abortion, to a 7-4 majority against, leaving no margin of safety for the rights of the unborn.
In 2009, when the Court issued its decision accepting the constitutionality of Mexico City’s abortion law, which legalized abortion on demand during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, only four justices sought to proclaim abortion as a “human right.” Four others who accepted the law’s constitutionality rejected that conclusion, leaving the matter to the states. They were joined by three justices who regarded the Mexico City law as unconstitutional. Today, the situation has been completely inverted.
Another sign of the momentum enjoyed by the pro-abortion movement in Mexico, one that was overlooked during the drama of the Supreme Court decision, was a different vote on the right to life held in the National Congress.
On September 27, Mexican President Felipe Calderon attempted to pass a bill that would have more strongly affirmed the right to life from conception as expressed in the American Convention on Human Rights.
Although the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the largest political party in Mexico, has supported right to life amendments at the state level in many cases, its national representatives refused to vote in favor of the proposal, as did the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Labor Party (PT).
Only Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN) voted in favor of the measure. The PAN, which is already a minority in the National Congress, is widely expected to lose the executive in the 2012 presidential election to the PRI’s star candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. Although Peña Nieto claims to be be pro-life, he will face a party that is increasingly in thrall to the pro-abortion movement at the national level, and may face serious difficulties in appointing replacements to the Supreme Court’s tiny pro-life bloc.
Pro-aborts on the offensive, pro-lifers in retreat
In addition to making deep inroads into the nation’s political parties and legal system, the abortion lobby has seized the initiative in the nation’s media.
During the last year, pro-abortion forces managed to secure the release of six women in the state of Guanajuato who were convicted of infanticide. Although all of the women had killed their children after giving birth at full gestation, the nation’s media cooperated in calling their children’s deaths “abortions,” implying the women had spontaneously miscarried. The state’s governor, PAN-member Juan Manuel Oliva. finally permitted them all to go free under the unrelenting pressure of negative headlines. The response by pro-life organizations was weak and muted.
A constant drumbeat in the nation’s press vilifying laws penalizing abortion has created an almost absolute consensus in favor of decriminalization of the deadly procedure, at least regarding the mothers themselves. The ostensibly pro-life PAN has recently announced its own policy of opposing penalties for women who abort, without any qualifications.
The aggressive, confident campaigning of pro-abortion groups in Mexico has resulted in an increasing sense of defeatism on the part of pro-life activists, who fear to raise their voice against the rhetoric of their opponents and the “pro-choice” philosophy underlying their agenda.
Some pro-life groups have even begun to concede a “right” to abortion in cases of rape and incest and to agree to the depenalization of abortion in all cases except those involving the use of force, even exempting doctors from such penalties. By making such concessions they hope to appease the concerns of judges who might otherwise vote against the state pro-life constitutions and right-to-life laws, suggesting that the amendments offer no real threat to the pro-abortion agenda.
Although such moves may have a superficial appeal as a short-run tactic, they signal a failing sense of confidence in the principles of the pro-life movement, and herald the impending victory of pro-abortion forces in Mexico. By conceding the premises of the country’s pro-abortion movement in order to achieve a short-run victory, pro-lifers are evincing a desperation that can only lead to complete surrender in the years to come.
Signs of hope
Although Mexicans are losing the battle at the political and cultural level, there remain strong and growing signs of life in the movement to protect the unborn.
An increasing number of pro-life scientists, jurists, and other experts are speaking out in the nation’s media, which has become more receptive in recent years to their message due to prudent publicity efforts. The often dubious scientific and legal claims made by abortion supporters and their allies in print, on radio, and television, are being answered by experts of equal stature, belying the notion that the pro-life position is confined to particular religious confessions.
While new voices are being heard in favor of the right to life in the nation’s media, other organizations quietly labor to save the unborn, rescuing thousands of children from the abortionist’s knife every year in Mexico City and throughout the country. Mobile units with ultrasounds stand outside of every public abortion facility, ready to offer women the information they need to choose life for their unborn children. Other organizations offer pregnant women shelter and resources to find work, facilitating their child’s adoption if necessary. Still others organize congresses and distribute information to the public, and offer counseling to women suffering post-abortion trauma.
Officials of the Catholic Church are also ramping up their efforts, speaking out forcefully in favor of the right to life, and organizing parish committees to bring the “culture of life” message to the faithful at the local level.
If Mexicans are to protect their children from the onslaught of the international abortion lobby, such efforts must be matched with a strong adherence to principle as well as a prudent presentation of the pro-life position. Catholics will need to form more alliances with non-Catholic religious groups, and increase the involvement of lay individuals and movements, finding new ways to make their message heard: that the right to life is fundamental, universal, and non-negotiable.