204481 Exploring abortion knowledge and opinion among lawyers, an important yet overlooked stakeholder group in Mexico

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 12:30 PM

Katherine S. Wilson, MPH , The Population Council Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
Sandra Garcia, ScD, ScM , Mexico Office, Population Council, Mexico City, Mexico
Claudia Diaz, PhD , Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Mexico has received international attention for legalizing first-trimester abortions in Mexico City in 2007; however, abortion remains a divisive issue and many women are denied legal abortion. Lawyers are important for promoting/criminalizing abortion, yet little is known about where they stand on abortion.


1) Assess abortion knowledge and opinion among criminal lawyers in Mexico

2) Assess willingness to help women who are denied legal abortion


We administered a quantitative survey of abortion knowledge, attitudes, and practices among a sample of lawyers in conservative and progressive regions (Leon, Tijuana, Tlaxcala, Mexico City). Following a pilot to assess feasibility, we recruited lawyers via public ministries and listings of private firms. All data was analyzed in SPSS.


250 lawyers participated, 53% were public sector and 47% were private sector attorneys. The majority were men (70%). The average age was 40 and average years practicing was 15. Ninety percent responded correctly that abortion is illegal in Mexico except in specific circumstances. Only 34% of Mexico City lawyers (none from elsewhere) mentioned spontaneously that abortion is legal in the capital, though 61% supported this. Only 10% knew a lawyer who had represented a woman in a case of abortion service denial. Interestingly, 84% said that they were ready to defend a woman in such a case while the rest refused for moral or religious reasons.


Though Mexican lawyers have limited knowledge of abortion laws, most support legal abortion in some cases and the Mexico City law. Lawyers should be mobilized for legal abortion advocacy in legally-restricted countries.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe three characteristics of Mexican lawyers’ understanding and opinion of abortion that have application for reproductive health policy 2. Provide two reasons why lawyers are a key stakeholder group to include when promoting abortion legalization and legal abortion services 3. Describe two ways for overcoming methodological challenges to recruiting this group in abortion research

Keywords: Abortion, Legislative

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the PI on this study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.