News from Mexico, Denmark and Poland

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on October 11, 2011

MEXICO – Mexico’s Supreme Court rejects move to legalize abortion

Mexico City – The members of Mexico’s Supreme Court on Sept. 28 rejected a decision that would have legalized abortion in the country.

By a 7 to 4 margin, the judges struck down a proposal by Supreme Justice Fernando Franco, which declared that the states’ legal shields against abortion were unconstitutional, and that abortion should be legal nationwide—up to the ninth month of pregnancy.

Debates over Justice Franco’s motion started on Sept. 26 among the 11-member Supreme Court and ended on Wednesday at noon, when Supreme Justice Jorge Pardo forcefully argued against the measure.

Before Justice Pardo’s speech, five judges expressed support for Franco’s draft, while only three were against.

Justice Pardo noted that article 7 of the Mexican constitution recognized protection of the unborn. He rejected the idea that the states’ efforts to protect the life of the unborn were creating new rights.

The judge also made the case for the federal nature of the Mexican government, highlighting that the Mexican Constitution “protects the states in exercising their freedom to establish the starting point of the right to life.”

In April 2007, the Legislative Assembly of Mexico’s capital made abortion legal until the 12th week of pregnancy. That same year the Supreme Court ruled that there was nothing in the Constitution that would prevent any Mexican state from legalizing abortion.

The decision sparked a legal effort among Mexico’s 31 states to create legal shields to prevent abortion from being legalized.

By 2011, 18 Mexican states had approved amendments to their constitutions explicitly protecting the unborn from the moment of conception.

DENMARK – Government levies world’s first Tax on ‘Fatty’ Foods

Denmark on Saturday [Oct. 1] became the first country in the world to impose a tax [on fatty foods].

[For the past week],  consumers [bought large quantities of] butter, pizza, meat and milk to avoid the immediate effects. … The new tax, designed by Denmark’s outgoing government as a health issue to limit the population’s intake of fatty foods, will add 16 kroner ($2.87) per kilo (2.2 pounds) of saturated fats in a product. …..

The new tax will be levied on all products including saturated fats — from butter and milk to pizzas, oils, meats and pre-cooked foods — in a costing system that Denmark’s Confederation of Industries (DI) says is a bureaucratic nightmare for producers and outlets.

“The way that this has been put together is an administrative nightmare, and I doubt whether it will give better health. It’s more just a tax,” DI foodstuffs spokeswoman Gitte Hestehave told AFP, adding that the costs of levying the tax would be passed on to consumers.

Hestehave said that setting prices on domestically produced or imported goods was complicated, as it required declarations from producers both as to how much saturated fat was in the product itself, and used in its preparation.

Computer systems all had to be adjusted, adding many man-hours to administrative tasks for producers and sellers.

“Products that include other products that include saturated fats also have to have new prices worked out. Imported goods require a declaration from the producers abroad on exactly how much saturated fat has been used in production,” Hestehave said.

“As far as we have been able to determine, Denmark is the first country in the world to introduce a fat tax” but we know that other countries are following us closely and have their own plans, she said.

The new Danish tax, however, may not last long.

EU legal expert Jeppe Rosenmejer of the Danish Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises says the European Union is currently studying the tax as there may be a competition issue.

While producers in Denmark have to pay the tax at source, for imported goods it is calculated by the distributor.

“This can mean that imported goods will be cheaper than domestically produced items,” Rosenmejer told the national Jyllands-Posten daily.

A Danish producer will have to pay the tax on all of the saturated fat used, including for example what a product is fried in, he said. An importer may only be paying according to what is actually in the finished product.

“Hopefully the tax will be short-lived,” Rosenmejer said. …

POLAND – Israel donates money for preservation of Auschwitz

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish officials say Israel has pledged $1 million to help preserve the former death camp of Auschwitz, which is in a serious state of deterioration.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum said Friday that it received a pledge from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of 3.6 million shekels ($1 million) for a “Perpetual Fund” that will pay for preserving barracks, gas chambers and other evidence of German crimes at the site in Poland.

Officials aim to raise $163 million for the fund, which would generate annual interest of $5.4-6.7 million for preservation.

Earlier this month Poland pledged $13.4 million, joining Germany, the U.S. and others as donors.

With the Polish and Israeli announcements, the fund has more than $120.9 million pledged.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at on Sept. 28 and on Sept. 30 and Sept 23.)


1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? - include name of heir apparent for monarch]
e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the "Geography" "People" and "Government" headings.  Go to for a list of continents.]

2. For Mexico:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Until what point did Supreme Justice Fernando Franco say abortion should be legal throughout Mexico?
c) How many of Mexico's 31 state constitutions prohibit abortion?  From what point do the amendments explicitly say the life of the unborn child is protected?

3. For Denmark:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For what reason did the Danish government say the tax is being imposed?
c) Do you think individuals should be required to pay extra taxes when purchasing foods the government considers unhealthy?  Explain your answer.

4. For Poland:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) b) Read the information about Auschwitz under "Background" below the questions, and visit the links under "Resources."  Why do you think is it important to preserve Auschwitz? (Discuss your answer with a parent.)