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Mexican Supreme Court rules preventing a woman from having an abortion unconstitutional


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Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled the criminalization of abortion unconstitutional on Tuesday. This unanimous vote, described as “historic” by defenders of rights, paves the way for access to abortion for women throughout the Latin American country.

While the right to abortion is challenged in some neighboring countries and states, Mexico, conservative and very Catholic, is going against the grain. The country’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled the criminalization of abortion unconstitutional, in a vote on Tuesday, September 7, allowing all Mexicans to access the practice.

“This is one more step in the historic struggle for (women’s) equality, dignity and the full exercise of their rights, said the President of the Court, Arturo Zaldivar. From now on, it will not be not possible, without violating the criteria of the court and the Constitution, to prosecute a woman who aborts in the cases validated by this court. “

The court met in plenary session for two days to consider the constitutionality of articles of the penal code of the state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico, which punish women who have abortions, with penalties of up to to three years in prison.

These articles were unanimously declared unconstitutional by the ten judges present, which establishes a case law for the courts in the country.

Release of women imprisoned for having abortions

A judicial source explained that this judgment has a national scope because it will allow women who live in states where abortion is criminalized to have access to abortion by decision of a judge.

“The woman must ask (the health services) to perform the abortion, and if they refuse to do so, she can appear before a judge and lodge an appeal. The judge will now have the power to order that the abortion. is practiced, “Alex Alí Méndez, constitutional lawyer and abortion expert, told AFP.

A third consequence of the Supreme Court ruling, the lawyer added, is that it will be a tool for women imprisoned for having abortions to regain their freedom.

The Reproductive Choice Information Group (GIRE), which advocates for the right to abortion, hailed what it called a “historic judgment”. “We hope that across the country, women and those with the capacity to bear a child will have the conditions and the freedom to determine their reproductive destiny,” he said.

Unsafe abortion is the fourth leading cause of maternal death in Mexico, according to the group.

Abortion already decriminalized in Mexico City and some states

Mexico is a federated country where the states are autonomous in the adoption of their laws, but these can be invalidated by means of an appeal when they contravene decisions of the Supreme Court which make jurisprudence, such as this one. Tuesday.

Mexico City decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks gestation in 2007, and it is performed free of charge in city hall clinics, whether or not women live in other neighborhoods. Oaxaca, Veracruz and Hidalgo are other states that have decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The Catholic religion, which generally prohibits abortion, is in the majority in Mexico with 77.7% of believers, according to the last official census of 2020.

Abortion is legal in Uruguay, Cuba, Argentina. It is totally banned in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Haiti. In other Latin American countries, abortion is only allowed in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, or in some cases if there has been rape or the fetus is not viable. .

The decision of the highest Mexican court of justice comes six days after that of the Supreme Court of the United States, profoundly overhauled by Donald Trump, to refuse the blocking of a law of Texas, a state bordering on Mexico, prohibiting the majority termination of pregnancy, even in cases of incest or rape.

With AFP


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