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Clerics Unite Against Abortion Bill

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By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 22, 2007; 12:05 AM

MEXICO CITY -- Religious leaders said Wednesday they have formed a united front against bills to legalize abortion in Mexico, an issue that has divided the nation and drawn in conservative President Felipe Calderon.

Leaders from Roman Catholic, evangelical, Orthodox and Anglican churches said they will call on their followers to march against the proposals that would legalize abortions in the first three months of pregnancy.

The bills have been filed by lawmakers from the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, in both the national Senate and Mexico City legislature.

"In the name of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, we ask, we implore they do not approve an unjust and bloody law that kills the innocent," said Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Catholic Archdioceses of Mexico City.

The position comes in spite of a constitutional ban on political activity by religious groups. It is also being supported by the Vatican, which is sending its chief anti-abortion campaigner, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, to inaugurate an international conference in Mexico City on Friday.

Current Mexican law permits abortions only if the pregnancy endangers a woman's life or if the woman has been raped.

But advocates of the bills say this does not stop wealthier Mexican women from traveling to the United States for the procedure, while thousands of poor women have back-street operations in Mexico. The law would allow abortions to be carried out under safer conditions, they argue.

"We need to stop thousands of women from dying in unsafe operations," said Sen. Carlos Navarrete, who heads the PRD in the Senate. "This is a right our laws should guarantee."

Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party, also has spoken against the measure.

"I have a personal conviction, and I am in defense of life," he said. "I have a plain respect for dignity and human life and, within this, I believe the existing legislation is adequate."

___

Associated Press Writer Ioan Grillo contributed to this report.


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