Underage Victims of Abuse May Abort Without Parental Permission in Mexico

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    Underage people –between 12 and 17 years old– who are victims of rape can have an abortion in Mexico without their parent’s permission or court order, the Supreme Court of Justice said last Tuesday when declaring a rule that enshrines that right constitutionally. “In cases [of] rape, no girl can be forced to be a mother, neither by the State nor by her parents or guardians”, said the president of the Mexican highest court, Arturo Zaldívar, during the plenary session.

    The court thus dismissed appeals filed by the states of Baja California and Aguascalientes (north) against a regulation issued by the government in 2009 that guarantees minors between the ages of 12 and 17 to interrupt pregnancy without parental authorization. The norm, which despite these resources was in force, obliges public hospitals to perform abortions on raped women who request it.

    The affected party must request the procedure under oath to tell the truth, without the need for a court order. In the case of children under 12 years of age, she demands permission from her parents. The states that challenged some modifications made to the regulation in 2016 argued that it invaded state jurisdiction in criminal matters and intervened in the rights of parents.

    But Zaldívar stated that this regulation is “a quick and effective response” to guarantee the rights of women. “Forcing women or girls to carry a pregnancy derived from rape to the term implies a total disregard of their human dignity, autonomy and free development of the personality, in addition to being re-victimizing and a form of gender violence”, he emphasized.

    The magistrate evoked the case of a woman from Baja California who was raped, in 1999, by 2 men when she was 14 years old and became pregnant. Although the state criminal code authorized abortion in her case, and both she and her parents requested the procedure, the local government and the justice system denied it and she had to carry the pregnancy to term.

    The Mexican Supreme Court has issued several rulings in favor of the free interruption of pregnancy; 8 out of the 32 states in the country have decriminalized abortion, the capital being the first, in 2007, and the most recent, Guerrero (south), a week ago. In September 2021, the court declared state laws criminalizing abortion unconstitutional, thus de facto authorizing it throughout the country.

    In Latin America, the interruption of pregnancy is legal in Uruguay, Cuba, Argentina, Guyana, and Colombia; while El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti do not allow it under any circumstances.

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