Mexico: Supporting women’s health rights by decriminalizing abortion

On Sept. 7, Mexico decriminalized abortion through their supreme court, meaning the court can no longer prosecute abortion procedures.

The decision protects biological females, especially those who are vulnerable, and their reproductive rights. Mexican Supreme Court President Arturo Zaldívar deemed this decision as “a watershed in the history of the rights of women and pregnant people.”

Abortion is legal in a handful of Mexican states, but there is an exception for cases of rape or the mother’s life being in danger. Even before it was decriminalized, an estimated one million abortions were carried out unsafely in Mexico. Instances of using a coat hanger or other methods of inducing miscarriages have been used to circumvent such legislation.

This ruling may have an influx of pregnant people traveling into Mexico from Texas to legally have an abortion. However, there are still limited options for these people as there are not enough facilities to meet their needs. Melissa Ayala, the coordinator of litigation for GIRE, a feminist organization in Mexico, said, “We still have a ways to go to ensure the service is provided.”

Many women are in prison serving sentences after having an abortion while it was still considered a criminal act. Following the decriminalization of abortion, lawyers have started to speculate that women may be able to start appealing their sentences. Such reformation may help poor women who have already been convicted of these crimes.

Strict laws are still in place all over Mexico that can heavily restrict women from receiving an abortion. Despite these unfortunate laws, there is hope that this can set a standard for the rest of Latin America, as said by Melissa Ayala. This monumental step by Mexico will likely cause a continuing increase in reproductive rights activism considering the recent surge in women’s rights demonstrations across Latin America.

Women continue to campaign throughout Mexico, demonstrating the importance of, Legal Interruption of Pregnancy (ILE). These demonstrations have been taking place face-to-face but also all over social media, especially on Twitter.

Opinions on legal abortion are still divisive in Mexico as the country is largely conservative and the Catholic church holds a lot of power. According to polling, a majority of Mexicans still oppose legal abortion These opinions have started to decrease slightly over the years as more of the population is starting to partake in the women’s rights movement.

Mexico is taking a big step in moving forward with protecting women’s rights as well as those who may become pregnant. The hope of this setting a standard for the rest of the country, even the world, can push women’s rights activists to continue fighting for these values.

Following, what more change is there to come in the right direction of protecting those with uteri? There is still much to be done.