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Oct 14, 2023

Roberto Diaz  @dieresis_u reports from Mexico City on the abortion decriminalization in Mexico.


Since 2021, abortion has no longer been a federal crime in Mexico. The criminal law in Mexico varies by state. On 7 September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court unanimously ruled that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, setting an important precedent across the whole country. Before 2019, abortion had been severely restricted outside of Mexico City, where it was legalized on-request in 2007. As of August 2023, abortion is available on request to any woman during the first twelve weeks of a pregnancy in Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Coahuila, Colima, Baja California, Sinaloa, Guerrero, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo, and Aguascalientes. However, even in states where abortion is legal, there continue to be women in pre-trial detention for murder due to the spontaneous miscarriages of pregnancies. 


On September 6th of the current year 2023, Mexico's The Supreme Court of Justice decriminalized the abortion on a federal level. The sentence was passed after the unanimous vote of the three ministers inside the First CourtRoom. A significant advance in the fight for the reproductive rights of Mexican women, since the latest sentence of 2021, in which criminalizing the abortion became unconstitutional in Mexico.

Because of the Judicial Power internal division, this decriminalizing measure doesn't mean that abortion became legal in the entire Mexican nation, a declaration given by the Subdirector of the civilian association: Group of Information in Chosen Reproduction or (GIRE) in Spanish, the latest verdict doesn't cover 21 of the 32 states of Mexico, as some states haven't modified their own Criminal Code. Nonetheless, the independent jurist, Carla Escoffie confirmed that even though this measure won’t protect women in states in which the abortion is considered a crime, the same measure allows the accused to process a legal protection against the state law and be judged in a federal court.

The controversial result has generated polarizing opinions in the country, from the official’s senator; Olga Sanchez Cordero, who seconded with animosity the Supremes’ court decision, to conservative activist, Irma Barrientos, from the civilian association "Derechos del Concebido" (Conceived Rights) who repudiated the verdict of the maximum entity of justice in Mexico.

The abortion topic is still generating controversy in a country in which 78% of the population considers themselves as catholic. The decriminalizing process for the abortion is still recent, but started to have more impact in the legislative discussions.

1 5 years ago, Mexico City became the first federal entity, where the abortion became legalized and from there, the discussion became stagnated until 2019, when the state of Oaxaca became the first state in decriminalize the abortion in its constitution, then in 2021, a wave of decriminalization processes started in other states, such as Veracruz, Hidalgo, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Colima, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Quintana Roo.

Although some states keep on the fight against the abortion; The state of Mexico is number one on the list of states that have more legal processes against women that have practiced an abortion, in 2021 were reported 149 and in 2021 were 114. The second state is Nuevo Leon with 119 abortion crimes reported in 2021 and 119 in 2022.

Before this measure to decriminalize the abortion in the Mexican country, a study from the Guttmacher Institute, estimated that 54% of all unwanted pregnancies ended in abortion, which translated into more than a million procedures yearly. In this estimation legal abortions and clandestine ones, were taken into consideration. In the case of clandestine abortion procedures 36% of all abortions ended with some type of complication, from sterilization to bleeding to death. 

As Mexican society becomes more polarized, the topic of abortion took major relevance in the common political speech, from figures that boosters Women Rights fight such as federal deputy Andrea Chavez Treviño, and antagonistic postures such as conservative senator Lilly Tellez and more recently far-right first Mexican presidential candidate, Eduardo Verastegui, better known for been the producer of the film, Sound of Freedom.

The abortion topic in Mexico, should be taken more seriously as the country is shifting to a more progressivist society, the population becomes more urban and more educated, that in response helps to booster the support for pro-choice movements, evidence of this shift can be seen in the populous annual protest of the Woman's Day, where the green handkerchief is worn by thousands of women looking to take control of their reproductive rights, and decriminalization of abortion takes a relevant part of the spotlight. 

#Mexico #Abortion #Decriminalization

Recorded 2023-09-16. Duration:  00:07:17

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