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7 Sep, 2023 11:52

Mexico decriminalizes abortions

The Supreme Court has ruled to abolish penalties for the procedure at the federal level
Mexico decriminalizes abortions

Mexico’s top court has ruled that criminalizing abortions in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional and has removed penalties for the practice nationwide. Women’s groups across the country have hailed the decision as a landmark moment.

The judgment, which the Supreme Court issued on Wednesday, comes two years after the same court ruled against abortion restrictions in the northern state of Coahuila, which has since prompted several Mexican states and local governments to begin revising their penal codes.

The federal decriminalization of abortion will mean that national health institutions will now be obligated to provide such services and will not be punished for the practice, reproductive rights group GIRE, which initiated the case, has said.

At the same time, some state-level restrictions on abortion still exist in approximately 20 Mexican states.

The Supreme Court explained in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that laws that prevented and punished abortions had violated the human rights of women and “people with the capacity to gestate.”

“In cases of rape, no girl can be forced to become a mother – neither by the state nor by her parents nor her guardians,” said Arturo Zaldivar, the head of the Supreme Court.

“Here, the violation of her rights is more serious, not only because of her status as a victim, but also because of her age, which makes it necessary to analyze the issue from the perspective of the best interests of minors,” he added.

GIRE has hailed the ruling as a victory for its cause, stating that “no woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be able to be punished for abortion.”

In a comment to the AFP news agency, women’s rights activist Sara Lovera noted that while some parts of the country, such as Mexico City, have long decriminalized abortions, “many women don’t know they have this right” due to a lack of facilities or publicity campaigns promoting the procedure.

“That’s why today’s decision of the Supreme Court is important,” Lovera said.

At the same time, Mexico’s pro-life movements have said they will continue to battle expanded abortion access. Irma Barrientos, the director of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, said her group is “not going to stop.”

“Let’s remember what happened in the United States,” she said. “After 40 years, the Supreme Court reversed its abortion decision, and we’re not going to stop until Mexico guarantees the right to life from the moment of conception.”