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Abortion is No Longer a Criminal Act in Mexico

Health & Gender Policy Brief # 129 | By: S Bhimji | Sept 9, 2021

Header photo taken from: The Washington Post

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Photo taken from: CNBC

Policy Summary

Just a few days ago, the Mexican Supreme court ruled that women in the Northern State of Coahuila should not be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy. 

For much of Mexico’s history, abortion has been  restricted in most parts of the nation. But this move by the Mexican Supreme court is of historic significance as it advances the rights of women.

The Mexican Supreme court decision may start a tsunami for the decriminalization of abortions across Mexico, which has so far legally permitted abortions in only a few states; and even those cases were limited to rape or life-threatening disorders in the pregnant mother.

The Information Group on Reproductive Choice which has campaigned fervently for women’s right to abortion stated, “We hope that throughout the country women and people with the ability to carry a child have the conditions and freedom to determine their reproductive destiny.”

Coahuila is right across the border from Texas where the US Supreme court recently allowed a draconian law banning all abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy to stand.

Policy Analysis

So what does this ruling mean?

The decision by the Mexican Supreme court to decriminalize abortion in Latin America’s 2nd biggest catholic nation is a huge surprise. However, for many years, Mexicans have been debating about making abortions legal and this ruling goes in the right direction for Mexican women. 

Secondly, this law may also be a blessing for the women in Texas who are seeking legal abortions. ( It’s possible some women in Texas in need of an abortion may explore the possibility of haviong one done in Mexico).

Women’s rights campaigners, feminists, celebs, and other high-profile artists in Mexico have been asserting the need for the rights of women when it comes to abortion. This follows the momentous ruling of legalizing abortion in Argentina early this year.

The Mexican Supreme court ruling came about when it was asked to determine the legality of the abortion law in Coahuila, which until recently had punished women who had abortions with up to 3 years in prison. Upon review, all judges voted unanimously to decriminalize abortion in Coahuila and this ruling will apply to the rest of the nation. 

Photo taken from: Catholic News Service

It will be some time before this new abortion law is adopted by the other states but Mexican women can rest assured that abortion will no longer be criminalized. More importantly, all the women who have been incarcerated for having abortions in recent years will be immediately freed.

For many decades, it was the impoverished Mexican women who were the most vulnerable to the rigid abortion laws of Mexico; each year hundreds of poor Mexican women were prosecuted and dozens are were jailed for having abortions.

But caution should be exercised; Mexico is still a conservative nation dominated by Catholics who are pro-life, and this decision is sure to anger some people. 

However, with a growing resurgence of a more liberal middle-class population, the influence of the church in Mexico and many Latin nations has been weaning and experts believe that the abortion law will stand. Latinos are slowly beginning to accept that abortion is not a crime.

Perhaps the Governor of Texas should look south and change its ways; because as is, Texas is regressing backward in society.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on image to visit resource website.

Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Mexico: Causes and Consequences

https://www.guttmacher.org/report/unintended-pregnancy-and-induced-abortion-mexico-causes-and-consequences

Making Abortion Laws in Mexico: Salience and Autonomy in the Policy making Process

https://www.jstor.org/stable/26330973

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