Mexico Decriminalizes Abortion in Historic Supreme Court Ruling

    Opening the door for women from all over the country to access this procedure

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    The Supreme Court of Mexico declared this past Tuesday unconstitutional to punish abortion in a unanimous vote that opens the door for women from all over the country to access this procedure.

    “With this unanimous criterion (…) from now on, it will not be possible, without violating the criteria of the court and the constitution, to prosecute any woman who has an abortion in the cases that this court has considered valid,” said the president of the court, Arturo Zaldívar.

    The plenary session of the court met for two days to discuss an appeal of unconstitutionality against articles of the penal code of the state of Coahuila. In them, women who abort and those who facilitate it were punished with up to three years in prison.

    These articles were declared unconstitutional with the vote of the 10 magistrates present. The foregoing establishes jurisprudence, that is, the judges must apply the criteria established by this ruling.

    National scope

    A judicial source explained that this sentence has a national scope. This means that it would allow women residing in states where abortion is criminalized to access it by order of a judge, through an appeal.

    “The woman must request (the health services) to perform the abortion, when they deny it, she may go before a judge and promote an appeal and based on this sentence, it must be granted and the judge will order that it be performed,” Alex Alí Méndez, a constitutional lawyer and expert on abortion issues, said.

    A third effect of this resolution, added the lawyer, is that it will be a tool for those women who are imprisoned for having an abortion to regain their freedom. Mexico is a federated country where the states are autonomous to dictate their laws; but these are invalidated, through the appeals, when they contravene rulings of the Supreme Court that establish jurisprudence like the one of this Tuesday.

    Mexico City decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks’ gestation in 2007, and it is performed free of charge at public clinics regardless of whether the women live in other districts. Oaxaca, Veracruz and Hidalgo are other states that have decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks.

    Resonance Costa Rica

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