By Mailee R. Smith
Staff Counsel, Americans United for Life
In the last several years, the “usual suspects” in the pro-abortion movement have been infesting other nations with their pro-choice rhetoric. One need only peruse the first page of the Center for Reproductive Rights’ website to see headlines such as “Center for Reproductive Rights Denounces Chilean Constitutional Tribunal’s Decision to Ban Distribution of ‘Morning-After Pill’ in Public Facilities” and “Filipino Women and Men Sue Manila Mayor for Ban on Contraception.” It is clear that the battle lines are now being drawn in countries far from our U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. Thus, it is becoming all the more important for the pro-life movement to shift to a more global focus, and support our pro-life brothers and sisters in other nations as they wage a war which has been litigated in this country for 35 years. We have much to offer from our wins and our losses.
Increasingly the pro-aborts’ attention has turned to Central and South America, and specifically Mexico. In 2006, the Center for Reproductive Rights won a lawsuit before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which the Mexican government agreed to guarantee access to abortion in the case of rape. During the course of the lawsuit, the pro-abortion group Human Rights Watch recommended punishing doctors by revoking their licenses if they refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds.
But this victory for the pro-choice movement was not enough. It was not enough to require access to abortion for rape victims. No, these pro-choice militants have only one thing in mind: unrestricted access to abortion as a “fundamental human right.”
The Mexican Example: The Law of Legal Interruption of Pregnancy
After the Center for Reproductive Rights won its initial victory, it wanted more. So in April 2007, Mexico City lawmakers passed the Law of Legal Interruption of Pregnancy, a law legalizing abortion on demand in the first trimester for city residents. City hospitals are now required to perform abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and private abortion clinics are allowed within Mexico City.
Fortunately, the law currently only affects Mexico City itself; elsewhere in Mexico, abortion remains illegal except in the cases of rape, incest, or severe fetal birth defects. However, it is feared that passage of this law will trigger abortion legislation throughout the rest of the country, and into other neighboring countries as well — countries where pro-abortion groups like CRR are already on the ground and running. The law has also paved the way for the legalization of euthanasia, an effort already underway in Mexico.
Support for the law is divided within the City itself, but approximately 70 percent of citizens in the rest of the nation are opposed to the law. Response from the Catholic Church, in a country where 90 percent of the population is Catholic, is strong. The bishops warned that Catholic legislators would face excommunication if they voted in favor of the bill. The Cardinal in Mexico City has led demonstrations, and the archdiocese has issued a statement that any doctors or nurses who perform abortions will face excommunication. In addition, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter in support of the Bishops’ efforts.
Significant here is that the new law violates the Mexican Constitution, which states that human life must be defended “from conception until its natural end.” Much to the rage of the City’s pro-abortion lawmakers, the nation’s executive branch — led by the attorney general and the president of the National Human Rights Commission — initiated a lawsuit before the Mexico Supreme Court arguing that the law violates human rights and other constitutional provisions.
In order for the new law to be struck down, 8 of the Court’s 11 justices must agree.
Since the inception of the lawsuit, groups on both sides of the issue, including Americans United for Life (AUL), have appeared and filed either written and/or oral statements. Hearings are scheduled to be heard by the Court for months, with the next round beginning in November. It is a measure that the Mexican press has labeled “unprecedented,” and it has continually been referred to as Mexico’s Roe v. Wade.
Abortion Hurts Women: Sharing What We’ve Learned Over the Last 35 Years
Since 1973, numerous medical studies have demonstrated that abortion is not only fatal for the unborn child, but it is also harmful for the woman. While our Supreme Court did not have the benefit of investigating these studies when considering Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court in Mexico is in a position to be more fully informed of the implications abortion has one women’s health.
In its submission earlier this spring to the Mexico Supreme Court, AUL filed the following medical arguments:
1) Abortion Causes Physical Harm
There are both immediate and long-term risks of the abortion procedure. Immediate (and undisputed) risks include blood clots; incomplete abortions, which occur when part of the unborn child or other products of pregnancy are not completely emptied from the uterus; infection, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infection caused by incomplete abortion; and injury to the cervix and other organs, including cervical lacerations and incompetent cervix — a condition that affects subsequent pregnancies. In addition, at least one out of every 500 abortions in the United States results in a perforated uterus.
Long-term risks include risks to subsequent pregnancies. For example, women who abort face an increased risk of pre-term birth in a subsequent pregnancy — which is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. In fact, a 2005 study demonstrated that women who abort are 70 percent more likely than women who do not abort to deliver a subsequent child before 28 weeks gestation. The chance of subsequent pre-term birth increases with each abortion a woman has.
Abortion is also a risk factor for placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies. Placenta previa is a pregnancy complication in which the placenta blocks the cervix and causes excessive bleeding.
Further, while the direct link between abortion and breast cancer is disputed, it is undisputed that a woman who aborts her first pregnancy loses the protective effect that pregnancy gives a woman against developing breast cancer.
2) Abortion Causes Psychological Harm
Just as the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged in Gonzales v. Carhart, “[s]evere depression and loss of esteem” can follow the abortion decision. Indeed, numerous studies have examined the effect abortion has on the mental state of women and confirm that abortion poses drastic effects, including elevated rates of severe depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
These findings are alarming, because depression is a known risk factor for suicide. In addition, such mental disorders are also linked to subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, one study demonstrated that women who never abused drugs before their abortions are 4.5 times more likely to abuse drugs after abortion. Another study stated that the use of drugs other than marijuana was 6.1 times higher among women who had abortions than woman who did not have abortions.
3) Abortion Causes Death
In addition to the deaths caused by the immediate and long-term physical risks of abortion, women who obtain abortions also face an increased risk of death “unrelated” to the physical harms of abortion. Numerous studies have revealed that women who are abort are substantially more likely to commit suicide later in life than women who carry to term. For example, a study in Finland demonstrated that women who abort are 6.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women who continue pregnancy. A study in California demonstrated that women who abort are 3.1 times more likely to commit suicide than women who continue pregnancy.
Women who abort are also at an increased risk of death from natural causes. For example, increased anxiety has been linked to heavier smoking habits, which in itself carries drastic health risks. In addition, depression has been linked to heart disease. A study in California demonstrated that women who abort are three times more likely to die of circulatory diseases (heart disease) and five times more likely to die of cerebrovascular disease than women who continue pregnancy.
The Justices of the Mexico Supreme Court do not have to look far to see these statistics played out in real life. In the year since the law’s passage, 6,400 abortions have been performed. Twenty-two women have been injured, and eight women have died from complications related to their abortions. While the law contains a clause that girls under the age of 18 must obtain parental consent before abortion, at least one of the fatalities was a minor.
Thus, an effort that was claimed to “help” women is in actuality killing women as well as their unborn children. The irony of this has not gone unnoticed by city lawmaker Paula Soto. She has stated, “We go to great lengths to protect [sea] turtle eggs. Lucky turtles! It appears they have more people willing to defend them than some unborn children.”
This article was originally published by The Culture of Life Foundation http://www.culture-of-life.org/content/view/468/1/
Used by Permission