Mexico Decriminalizes Abortion

By Jack Pluth, Guest Writer

The Supreme Court of Mexico announced the decriminalization of abortion across the nation, ruling that national laws prohibiting the procedure are unconstitutional and violate women’s rights last week. 

The Court reached a unanimous 10-0 decision in their ruling, which protects women who seek and have sought an abortion from criminal prosecution. 

With this decision, all criminal records pertaining to abortion were expunged. The court also ordered that abortion be removed from the federal penal code and required the federal public health service and federal health institutions to offer abortions to anyone who requests them.

The Court’s latest decision not only decriminalizes abortion nationally but also guides all federal health services to have the infrastructure in place to offer the procedure in a safe and legal manner to those who seek it.

The court’s historic decision stemmed from their ruling that abortion was not a crime in the Mexican states of Coahuila and Sinaloa in 2021. 

This ruling set off a slow state-by-state process of decriminalizing abortion, until as many as 12 separate states sought legalization. 

While the ruling from the Mexican Supreme Court’s  decision decriminalizes abortion across the nation, as many as 20 Mexican states still regard the procedure as illegal. Judges in these states will abide by the Court’s decision but face legal hurdles in removing all penalties. 

Abortion-rights activists will also have to continue seeking legislation state-by-state, and state legislatures can enact policies that erase penalties.

“No woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be able to be punished for abortion,” said the Information Group for Chosen Reproduction, a human rights organization that launched the legal appeal that catalyzed the decision. The group celebrated the decision, calling it “incredible.”

Former Mexican Supreme Court Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero, now a federal senator, has lauded the decision, stating that Mexico is becoming “a more just society in which the rights of all are respected.” She called on Mexico’s Congress to pass legislation in response to the ruling.

Her sentiment is shared by the governmental organization Mexico’s National Institute for Women, which similarly touted the Supreme Court’s ruling as a step forward regarding gender equality. The group labeled the decision as a “day of victory  and  justice for Mexican women.” 

This decision has garnered both criticism and praise from Mexico’s population. Feminist organizations in the nation have cautiously celebrated at the potential that the Court’s latest ruling could offer if implemented to its fullest effect. However, several religious organizations, civilian groups and grassroots movements have risen to challenge it.  

Individuals like Irma Barrientos of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived have cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade to predict that Mexico’s Supreme Court may reverse their decision as well in the future. 

The decriminalization of abortion in Mexico comes as the latest in a series of loosening restrictions regarding the practice across Latin America in a movement known symbolically as “Green September.” In 2020, Argentina legalized abortion, followed by Colombia two years later.