Mexico's Supreme Court Legalizes Abortion Nationwide

17:42 06.09.2023

In a groundbreaking ruling, Mexico's Supreme Court has decriminalized abortion nationwide, expanding access to the procedure in all 32 states. This decision builds upon a previous ruling that granted officials the authority to allow abortion on a state-by-state basis. Prior to this ruling, abortion was only legally accessible in 12 states. This significant move highlights how Latin American countries, including Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Guyana, are leading the way in expanding abortion rights.

The ruling marks a stark contrast to the United States, where the Supreme Court's 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade has made it increasingly challenging for women to terminate their pregnancies. While the US takes steps backward, Mexico and its neighboring countries are pushing forward in protecting women's reproductive rights.

Mexico, a predominantly Catholic country with a population of 130 million people, has witnessed profound societal and institutional changes over the years. Although much of Mexico remains culturally conservative, decades of feminist activism have reshaped public opinion regarding women's rights. The fight for abortion rights has been championed by reproductive rights groups who have successfully brought abortion cases to the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court's unexpected champion of abortion rights is Chief Justice Arturo Zald?var Lelo de Larrea. Raised by practicing Catholic parents, Chief Justice Zald?var's support for decriminalizing abortion demonstrates an evolving perspective within Mexican society.

The Supreme Court, in a brief statement, declared that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional and a violation of women's human rights. This ruling is a significant victory for reproductive rights activists and marks a turning point in Mexico's legal landscape.

The decriminalization of abortion has been a gradual process in Mexico. Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was not a crime in one northern state. Since then, the country has embarked on a state-by-state journey toward decriminalization. Last week, the central state of Aguascalientes became the 12th state to decriminalize abortion. With the Supreme Court's latest decision, judges in states that still criminalize abortion will be compelled to consider the top court's ruling.

The impact of this sweeping decision extends beyond legalizing abortion. The Information Group for Chosen Reproduction (GIRE), a non-governmental organization, explained that the court's ruling renders the portion of the federal penal code criminalizing abortion ineffective. This means that no woman, pregnant person, or health worker can be punished for seeking or providing an abortion. Furthermore, federal public health services and institutions are now obligated to offer abortion services to anyone who requests them.

The Supreme Court's order to remove the crime of abortion from the federal penal code is a significant step toward ensuring reproductive freedom and equal access to healthcare for women and people with the capacity to gestate across the country. Mexico's groundbreaking ruling reflects a seismic shift in Latin America, where nations are progressively loosening abortion restrictions while parts of the United States regress in protecting women's rights.

/ Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 5:42 PM /

themes:  Mexico

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