In a historic decision, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday decriminalized abortion across all 32 states of the Latin American country.
The decision ended years of battle after the court in the northern state of Coahuila initially declared criminal penalties for terminating pregnancies unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court, in its latest ruling, emphasized that denying women the right to terminate a pregnancy violated their human rights.
“The legal system that penalizes abortion in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional, since it violates the human rights of women and people with the capacity to gestate,” the court said on social media.
The landmark decision of Mexican court comes in contrast to United States after the Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing the right to abortion nationwide.
Arturo Zaldívar, the head of the Supreme Court, stated, “In cases of rape, no girl can be forced to become a mother – neither by the state nor by her parents nor her guardians. Here, the violation of her rights is more serious, not only because of her status as a victim, but also because of her age, which makes it necessary to analyze the issue from the perspective of the best interests of minors.”
The Supreme Court’s decision has been warmly welcomed by women’s rights organizations of the country. It is believed to not only legalizes abortion but also paves the way for the federal healthcare system to provide abortion services, marking a significant milestone in women’s reproductive rights in Mexico.
While Mexico City had decriminalized abortion in 2007, followed by a dozen other states, barriers like a lack of facilities and public awareness continued to persist.
Women’s rights activist Sara Lovera said that but in addition to a lack of facilities to carry out the procedure, “many women don’t know that they have this right because local governments have not carried out publicity campaigns about it,” while speaking to AFP.
“That’s why today’s decision of the Supreme Court is important,” said Lovera.
This landmark ruling is expected to be met with resistance from Mexico’s more conservative politicians and the Catholic Church, given that Mexico is Latin America’s second-largest Catholic nation. However, the country’s government considers itself staunchly secular, and the Church’s influence has been on the decline in recent years.