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Mexican Supreme Court Decriminalizes Abortion

The court ruled that penalizing abortions 'violates the human rights of women and people with the capacity to gestate'

The Supreme Court of Mexico decriminalized abortion nationwide after finding punishments for the procedure to be a violation of human rights.

Mexico is the latest country in Latin America to revise its position on abortion, a change long advocated for by a number of women’s organizations.

“The First Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that the legal system that penalizes abortion in the Federal Criminal Code is unconstitutional, since it violates the human rights of women and people with the capacity to gestate,” the court posted in a statement on X on Sept. 6.

The Court’s decision ends all federal penalties for abortions. Women who get abortions and abortion providers will not face criminal charges. 

Abortion regulations are devised and set by each individual state. Two years ago, the court decriminalized abortion in the northern state of Coahuila, which in turn prompted 12 states to revise their laws.

Abortion is still criminalized in at least 20 states. 

Mexico’s two congressional chambers will now need to come together to pass an accompanying law, eliminating abortion from the country’s penal code,” reports The Guardian. “This process could be fast, or it could take years, as happened with the court’s ruling to decriminalize marijuana in 2018, which was not officially ratified by congress until 2021, leaving the possession and recreational consumption of the herb in a legal grey area for three years.”

Pro-abortion activists celebrated the ruling, with Mexico’s National Institute for Women calling abortion decriminalization a step toward gender quality.

“Today is a day of victory and justice for Mexican women!” the group wrote on social media, per AP News.

The Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), a pro-abortion group, noted that now “any federal health institution must provide the abortion service to all women and people with the ability to manage who request it.”

“We trust that the country’s entities, whose legislation still hinders reproductive autonomy, take into account the criteria of the highest court of law in order to guarantee the right to decide of women and people with the capacity to manage,” the GIRE said in a translated statement

The Supreme Court’s decision is a blow to many religious people and anti-abortion groups. 

“We’re not going to stop,” said Irma Barrientos, director of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, per Politico. “Let’s remember what happened in the United States. 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.”

The change to increase abortion access in Mexico follows the procedure’s decriminalization in Colombia early last year,” reports The Hill. “Abortion laws have historically been strict in Latin America, a predominantly Catholic region.”

Argentina became the largest country in Latin America to legalize abortion, which is permitted termination during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, in 2021. Abortion is also legal in Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana, and French Guiana. In contrast, abortion is banned in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

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