Mexico seems to be paving the way for social reforms in Latin America. In January the country legalized same sex civil unions, and today they have legalized abortion in the first trimester (although this is only applicable to Mexico City); previously women could have a legal abortion only in case of rape or if her life was at risk. The vote was 46 to 19 with only one abstention and all of the “no” votes came from president Felipe Calderon’s political party.

Currently there are about 200,000 illegal abortions in Mexico, and yearly at least 1,500 women die because of poorly handled and unsanitary illegal procedures. This new law states that if a woman has an abortion after the first 12 weeks she risks going to jail for 6 months, the doctor risks between 1 – 3 years in jail, and women under the age of 18 still need parental consent.

In Latin America, only Cuba, Puerto Rico (technically USA territory) and Guyana also offer women the ability to have a legal abortion. Nicaragua, El Salvador and Chile ban the practice entirely.

Today, the NY Times, and the BBC and the Guardian, in the UK, all have articles on the subject.

You can learn more about women’s health issues in Latin America through Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN).