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In Mexico, the criminalization of abortion deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court

With the entry into force of a particularly restrictive law on abortion in Texas, the international horizon of the right of women to dispose of their bodies has brightened. The Supreme Court of Mexico ruled unconstitutional the criminalization of abortion, in a vote on Tuesday, September 7, unanimously.

“This is one more step in the historic struggle for equality [des femmes], dignity and the full exercise of their rights ”, declared the President of the Court, Arturo Zaldivar. This vote paves the way for access to abortion for all women in the country. “From now on, it will not be possible, without violating the criteria of the tribunal and the Constitution, to prosecute a woman who aborts in the cases validated by this tribunal”, underlined Mr. Zaldivar.

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The decision follows a two-day plenary session of the court, which met to consider the constitutionality of articles of the penal code of the state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico. These articles punish women who have abortions, with sentences of up to three years in prison. They were thus declared unconstitutional by the unanimity of the ten judges present, which establishes a case law for the courts of the country.

Abortion allowed up to twelve weeks in Mexico City

A judicial source explained that this judgment has indeed a national scope, because it will allow women who live in states where abortion is criminalized to have access to abortion by decision of a judge.

“The woman must ask [aux services de santé] to perform an abortion, and if they refuse to do so, she can appear before a judge and lodge an appeal. The judge will now have the power to order that the abortion be performed “, explained Alex Alí Méndez, constitutional lawyer and expert on abortion issues. Another consequence of the Supreme Court ruling, the lawyer added, is that it will be a tool for women imprisoned for having abortions to regain their freedom.

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Mexico is a federated country where the states are autonomous in the adoption of their laws, but the latter can be invalidated by means of an appeal when they contravene decisions of the Supreme Court which make jurisprudence, such as this one. this. Mexico City decriminalized abortion up to twelve weeks gestation in 2007, and it is performed free of charge in city hall clinics whether or not women live in the neighborhood. The states of Oaxaca, Veracruz and Hidalgo also apply the same policy.

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