Social Actors and Discourse on Abortion in the Mexican Press: The Paulina Case
Posted: 31 Jan 2007
The "Paulina case" is the story of a 13-year-old girl in Mexico who became pregnant in 1999 after being raped. Although she received permission to obtain a legal abortion, the hospital convinced her mother through misleading information to decline the abortion. This case has become an almost obligatory point of reference when abortion is discussed in Mexico. This paper analyses how the Mexican press portrayed the Paulina case and the social actors who participated in it - Paulina herself, Paulina's allies, the state government, the Catholic Church, members of the political party PAN and the National Human Rights Commission. One of the great breakthroughs of this case was that the denial of an abortion was judged to be a form of negligence. In demanding justice for Paulina, Paulina's allies were given moral authority in the press to denounce those who denied her an abortion. While the government of Baja California state and members of the PAN were held responsible for their role in the case, the Catholic Church, who was also responsible, seemed to escape criticism. It is probable that the large emotional weight of the Paulina case accomplished more in terms of changing public opinion in support of women's right to decide on abortion than any other single event to date.
Keywords: abortion law and policy, sexual violence and abuse, advocacy and political process, role of media, Mexico
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