Detailing Impact of Mexico's Landmark Legislation

Population Briefs, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Detailing Impact of Mexico's Landmark Legislation


A recent special issue of one of the Population Council's peer-reviewed journals, Studies in Family Planning, describes the impact of Mexico City's landmark legislation to decriminalize first-trimester abortion.

In April 2007, Mexico City's legislative assembly voted to liberalize abortion law to permit the interruption of first-trimester pregnancies. Although the legislation was challenged, in August 2008 Mexico's Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. Since 2007, first-trimester abortion has been provided free of charge to Mexico City residents, and for a small fee to women from other Mexican states. "The Population Council's package of abortion-related research in Mexico has been used by government officials and women's rights advocacy groups to shape policies to safeguard women's health," says Sandra G. Garcia, the Council's country director in Mexico. Latin America has some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws and the highest incidence of unsafe abortion. Complications of abortion are a major cause of maternal mortality in Latin America.

Women's experiences

An article by former Mexico City Minister of Health Manuel Mondragon y Kalb, Sandra Garcia, and their colleagues presents data on the first 20,053 women served by 15 of the hospitals affiliated with the public sector abortion services program in its first three years. They found that the trend has been toward more medication and manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) abortions--procedures that can be employed very early in a pregnancy--and away from dilation and curettage, a procedure that results in more complications than medication or MVA abortion. The legal abortion program in Mexico City has also been successful in increasing post-procedure contraceptive uptake among previous users--from 73 percent in 2007-08 to 85 percent by 2009-10.

An article by Marieke van Dijk, a Population Council social scientist at the time of the research, and her colleagues presents qualitative data on the experiences of 25 women who underwent legal abortion. The in-depth interviews revealed that women were highly satisfied with the quality of the services provided in both public and private facilities, although some experienced difficulties finding a facility that offered the services. Most women felt they were treated respectfully during provision of service, approved of the contraceptive counseling they received, and adopted a method.

Public and provider opinion

Doctoral student and former Population Council researcher Kate S. Wilson and colleagues present the results of three opinion surveys conducted among Mexico City residents before and after the legal reform. The level of popular support for the proposed legislation prior to the reform had strongly influenced policymakers. The researchers found that support for the legalization increased significantly over the three years after it was enacted, from 38 percent in 2007 to 63 percent in 2008 and 74 percent in 2009. …

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Detailing Impact of Mexico's Landmark Legislation
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