Mexico’s supreme court first declared that it is taking down the criminalization of abortion across its state, Coahuila. However, this one step pushed for another important change in the country. It is a historic and groundbreaking ruling in Mexico, a country deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. Also, where women were previously incarcerated for terminating pregnancies. Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the federal government’s criminalization of abortion unconstitutional this week.
CEO and President of a Global and reproductive justice organization, IPAS, Anu Kumar, said, “It is a huge and historic victory for Mexico and for the entire region. Abortion is not a crime. Abortion is part of essential health care. And that is what the Supreme Court in Mexico now clearly recognizes,” Like many conservative states, Mexico is also a predominantly Catholic nation in Latin America, has traditionally maintained strict restrictions on abortion. But now, the state has responded to the influential “Green Wave” movement led by abortion activists in an unexpected way. The legal landscape has undergone significant transformation over the past three years.
After Argentina’s landmark decision to legalize abortion in 2020, Colombia’s highest court also decriminalized abortion. Furthermore, Ecuadorian lawmakers enacted legislation to permit feticide in cases of rape. In Chile, efforts were underway to secure women’s reproductive rights within the framework of the country’s new constitution. It’s crucial to note that recent far-right electoral gains in Chile have raised concerns about the potential reversal of this progress.
Some states still criminalize abortion
Some states are still criminalizing abortion in Mexico. The Judges of these states will abide by the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the legal work is yet to be completed in these states to avoid the penalties of abortion.
GIRE, the Information Group for Chosen Reproduction, asserted in a statement. The group said that no woman, pregnant individual, or healthcare worker would face penalties for feticides. This decision in Mexico is indicative of evolving perspectives on abortion. Around one-third of the population favored the complete legalization of abortion in 2019. It was a substantial increase from the mere 12 percent recorded in 2005. Furthermore, around 46 percent supported legalizing abortion in most or all cases. The support numbers are as per a recent Pew Research survey conducted this year. Nevertheless, it is a notable movement that Mexico, along with many other Latin American nations, still lags behind the support for feticide seen in the United States and numerous countries worldwide, particularly across Europe.
Latin America and Caribbean director of reproductive rights organization IPAS, Maria Antonieta Alcalde, said that the practical execution of abortion services, whether through medication or surgical procedures, should pose a relatively minor task for the national health ministry. Especially given its extensive provision of a wide range of healthcare services to the majority of the population. He further added, “The point here is not capacity. The point here is political will.”
However, Mexican advocates for abortion rights emphasize that while the ruling holds the promise of broadening access to feticide, its actual implementation may not become a reality immediately. The realization of this promise could significantly hinge upon the political and legislative determination of the federal government. To push the changes, the government will be shielding feticide patients and providers from legal repercussions. Additionally, the ruling’s influence on accessibility remains constrained until the federal public health system initiates the provision of abortion services. Historically, the federal system has only been mandated to offer such services in instances of rape or when the mother’s health is at risk.
Maria Antonieta Alcalde, Latin American and Caribbean director of the reproductive rights organization IPAS, talked about the implementation of the series. He stated that the practical implementation of abortion services, whether through medication or surgical procedures, should pose a relatively minimal challenge for the national health ministry. This is because the ministry already offers a comprehensive spectrum of healthcare services to the majority of the population.
Seeking to decriminalize abortion
As a result of the huge changes, those advocates supporting to de-criminalize abortion are looking to Mexico. According to Mexico’s Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), around 172 people were jailed due to feticide from 2010 to 2020, cases where advocacy was brought to the Supreme Court.
Since the United States Supreme Court’s invalidation of the federal right to abortion in June 2022, the number of individuals seeking feticide in the U.S. has turned to Mexico has increased. A well-established network of informal volunteer groups in the country has been providing abortion-inducing pills to residents for years. The country’s recent court ruling has the potential to significantly simplify the process of terminating pregnancies throughout Mexico, whether through state-run clinics or informal channels. This development could further change Mexico as an abortion destination for Americans.
The new Government of the country is changing various things, including banning of guns in the country. Known to be hyper-liberal, Michelle Grisham banned the right to bear arms in her state. She declared a state emergency that the permits would no longer be valid for the next 30 days. This kind of drastic change in the country might slightly change feticide seekers’ reliability in Mexico. Considering the strong political rivalry going on in the political aspects.
Veronica Cruz, the founder of Las Libres, a volunteer network located in the state of Guanajuato that experienced a surge in U.S. women seeking feticide pills after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, remarked, “It opens more possibilities. They will have even more options in Mexico.” Now, Mexico’s federal government is obligated by court order to remove abortion from the federal penal code. So, the feticide rights advocates anticipate that the national congress will soon draft legislation to incorporate abortion regulations into the federal health code.
Further, the legislators will be tasked with determining the circumstances under which abortions will be legal in Mexico. It includes setting a gestational limit. Subsequently, abortion rights advocates anticipate the addition of a provision to the general health law, which would establish regulations at the state level as well.
Only 12 out of Mexico’s 32 states have removed abortion from their local penal codes. However, a federal law of this nature, actively legalizing abortion, would offer legal protection to feticide patients in all states. Isabel Fulda, deputy director at GIRE, noted that it is challenging to estimate a precise timeline for universal abortion access in Mexico. Nevertheless, the organization is prepared to challenge any federal resistance to providing these services, recognizing that the implementation of such changes does require time.