Mexico's Top Court Decriminalizes Abortion Nationwide

Crime will be removed from country's penal code
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2021 5:06 PM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2023 4:42 PM CDT
Mexico Supreme Court Decriminalizes Abortion
In this Sept. 28, 2020 file photo, a woman holds a banner reading, in Spanish, "Legal, safe, and free abortion, legalize and decriminalize abortion now, for the independence and autonomy of our bodies."   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
UPDATE Sep 6, 2023 4:42 PM CDT

Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide Wednesday, two years after ruling that abortion was not a crime in one northern state. That earlier ruling had set off a grinding process of decriminalizing abortion state by state. Last week, the central state of Aguascalientes became the 12th of Mexico's 32 states to decriminalize the procedure, the AP reports. Judges in states that still criminalize abortion will have to take account of the top court's ruling. The court said "it had decided that "the legal system that criminalized abortion in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional, (because) it violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to gestate." The court ordered that the crime of abortion be removed from the federal penal code.

Sep 7, 2021 5:06 PM CDT

Mexico's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion, unanimously annulling several provisions of a law from Coahuila—a state on the Texas border—that had made abortion a criminal act. The decision will immediately only affect the northern border state, but it establishes "obligatory criteria for all of the country's judges," compelling them to act the same way in similar cases, said court President Arturo Zaldívar, per the AP.

Only four states—Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Hidalgo—now allow abortion in most circumstances. The other 28 states penalize abortion with some exceptions. The Supreme Court had previously ruled in favor of women who had been imprisoned or had their rights violated for abortions. But Rebecca Ramos, director of the nongovernmental reproductive rights group GIRE, said this is the first time the justices have debated the fundamental questio n of whether abortion should be considered a crime or not. The decision "is a reflection of the historic fight of the feminist movement for legal, safe, and free abortion," GIRE said in a statement.

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Justice Margarita Ríos Farjat criticized those who she said trample on women's rights under the banner of "pro-life." She said women are labelled "ignorant" and "bad or egotistical, because good women complete the pregnancy and put the baby up for adoption." The decision could potentially open another option for Texas women seeking legal abortions. (More abortion stories.)

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