Mexico City, Dec 31 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday proposed holding a popular consultation on whether or not to legalize abortion to avoid personally taking a stance on the matter after the Argentine legislature approved legalizing it in that country.
“It’s a decision for women. My posture is that on these matters, where there are points of view in favor and against, because democracy is like that, there’s no single thinking, the best thing is to consult with the citizenry and in this case with women,” the president said at his Thursday morning press conference from the National Palace.
Lopez Obrador’s remarks came after abortion was legalized in Argentina, although Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca have already completely decriminalized the procedure up through the 12th week of pregnancy.
On the basis of that, several feminist groups called on the president’s leftist Morena party to use its majority in Congress to approve a federal law allowing the legal interruption of pregnancy nationwide.
“What I don’t think is appropriate is for a decision to be made from above, where there is still legal and legitimate representation such as the legislative branch. I think that in these cases the best thing is to employ participative democracy,” Lopez Obrador said.
Despite the insistence on holding a popular vote on the matter, the president did not suggest that he would sent this suggestion to Congress, but rather he noted the steps to “be able to call for a consultation” with the public, as set forth in the Constitution.
“A certain number of signatures are collected, a consultation is requested and that consultation can be binding and can lead to the modification of laws or not, depending on the opinion of women,” he said.
When questioned by reporters whether the consultation would harm women’s right to freedom, he asked that abortion “not be a government matter or one of the government branches, or the churches, but rather … a matter for women, the citizenry, the people.”
“This is about respect for everyone, putting freedom first. We’re free and in Mexico this is guaranteed, above all by this government, which listens and takes everyone into account,” he said.
In Mexico, the only places where abortion has been decriminalized up until the 12th week of pregnancy regardless of how the pregnancy occurred are Oaxaca and Mexico City.
Throughout the rest of the country, abortion is allowed in cases of rape, and some states provide grounds for abortion when the viability of the fetus or the health of the mother is in question, or in cases of extreme poverty, presumably where the parent(s) cannot afford to raise a child.
On other occasions, Lopez Obrador has adopted an ambivalent position regarding abortion, while Government Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero on several occasions has expressed her support for decriminalizing the practice.