Mexico Frees Women Jailed for Years Over Miscarriages

Sparks debate over ban on elective abortions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 8, 2010 9:47 AM CDT
An inmate looks through her cell window.   (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

(Newser) – Mexico yesterday released seven women who were serving sentences of up to 29 years for the death of their newborns, a move that shines a light on the fiery debate that's erupted about whether some conservative Mexican states are taking a ban on elective abortions too far. The seven, who are largely poor and uneducated, insist that they suffered miscarriages. Guanajuato state prosecutors say the women were given fair trials, and that their babies were born alive but died because of mistreatment or lack of care.

The women had their sentences reduced to 3 to 8 years—the time already served—after it was determined the length of time was "excessively punitive." While Guanajuato still allows abortion under very limited circumstances, like rape, one activist says doctors fearing prosecution often require a woman impregnated by rape to produce a letter from prosecutors confirming that, and that authorities often delay until the window for such an abortion, 12 weeks in most states, has passed, forcing the woman to bear the child.

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