Gay marriage and abortion in Mexico City

Follow-up to: Gay marriage in Mexico City.

As the date for legal gay marriage approaches in Mexico City, conservative opposition builds.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera:

Today the family is under attack in its essence by the equivalence of homosexual unions with marriage between a man and a woman.

The language on adoption by same-sex couples – also to be legalized – is especially vitriolic. The Catholic opposition says it will subject children to…

violence of all sorts (such as psychological), as their fragile condition as children is taken advantage of in order to introduce them into environments that do not foster their full development.

Legal challenges to follow.

Opponents of the the gay marriage law see themselves as fighting a rising tide of rights, following Mexico City’s legalization of early abortions in 2007. These limited abortion rights have unleashed a “plague” of abortions, they say (about 35,000). On the other side, feminist groups are trying to take the issue national.

Whenever people use raw numbers to show the extent of a problem, it’s a good idea to pull out your crayon and napkin and see what they’re really talking about. It’s one thing to say, morally, one abortion is too many. But if you will concede that two abortions is worse than one, then it’s worth comparing rates.

So, on the “plague” idea, a rough calculation. Let’s say:

  • The global abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women ages 15-44 per year, and
  • the Mexico City metro area’s population of 21 million is 20% of Mexico’s population,
  • and there were 27 million women in the country ages 15-44 in 2008, so
  • there should be about 5.4 million women ages 15-44 in the Mexico City metro area, and
  • at average international rates they would be expected to have about 150,000 abortions per year.

Looks to me like they are averaging about 12,000 per year (35,000 from April 2007 to December 2009). Round numbers. So if it’s a plague, it’s a much-smaller-than-average plague.

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