In a landmark decision, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday decriminalised abortion across all 32 states of the country, after ruling that criminal penalties for terminating pregnancies were ‘unconstitutional’ and in violation of human rights of women, BBC reported.
“In cases of rape, no girl can be forced to become a mother – neither by the state nor by her parents nor her guardians,” said the head of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldivar. He further ruled that the issue should be analysed from the perspective of the best interests of minors.
In 2007, Mexico City was the first state to decriminalise abortion, an action followed by 12 other states over the years. The northern state of Coahuila decriminalised abortion two years ago.
The ruling will now protect women seeking abortions as well as healthcare workers involved in providing abortion care from criminal charges even as abortion still remains banned or restricted in many countries.
The move has been hailed by women’s rights groups, but is likely to anger conservative politicians and Mexico’s Catholic Church. Mexico is Latin America’s second-largest Catholic nation, despite the weakening influence of the Church in recent years.
Abortion rights in Latin America
With the ruling on Wednesday, Mexico has joined a number of Latin American countries who have loosened abortion restrictions – as part of what is being called as a ‘green wave’. Abortion is legalised in the countries of Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay and Argentina.
However, abortion is completely banned in the Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname and even Argentina’s presidential frontrunner Javier Milei has called for banning the procedure of pregnancy termination.
Mexico’s latest ruling marks a stark contrast with its neighbour, the United States, where the Supreme Court overruled the 1973 Roe v Wade decision last year and allowed specific states to ban abortion and criminalise women opting for pregnancy termination and healthcare workers involved in the procedure.
Meanwhile, 15 US states have passed laws banning abortions as early as at six weeks of gestation, when many women are not yet aware they are pregnant. The latest Mexican ruling may entice more women from the American South to travel to Mexico for healthcare, according to the Guardian.