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Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion in Northern State of Coahuila

by | Sep 8, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

With ten of the 11 justices participating, Mexico’s Supreme Court (the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico) unanimously decriminalized abortion in the Northern state of Coahuila. Prior to Tuesday’s decision, elective abortion up until 12 weeks was legal in only three states– Hidalgo, Oaxaca, and Veracruz –and in Mexico City. 

While Tuesday’s decision will immediately affect only Coahuila, the Associated Press reported that “it establishes a historic precedent and ‘obligatory criteria for all of the country’s judges,’ compelling them to act the same way in similar cases, said court President Arturo Zaldívar.”

“It is a watershed moment in the history of rights of all women and pregnant people, especially the most vulnerable,” Zaldívar said.

The legal challenge began in 2018. In a story written prior to the decision, EFE noted, “The Supreme Court’s ruling would only invalidate that section of Coahuila’s criminal code, but if eight of the 11 justices vote to uphold the legal challenge they would set a precedent that would obligate judges nationwide to hand down similar rulings.” That is what occurred Tuesday.

Bishop Alfonso Gerardo Miranda Guardiola, Auxiliary Bishop of Monterrey and general secretary of the Mexican bishops’ conference, “charged that the court intends a series of violations’ against human life by opening the doors to abortion throughout the country, while saying a Mass at the Mexican bishops’ Ongoing Formation Week,” David Ramos reported for the Catholic News Agency

The National Front for the Family [FNF], in a statement sent to ACI Prensa, said “today Mexico is dressed in mourning.”

The FNF continued, “[T]he reforms in favor of the right to life that have a legal basis, recognized nationally and internationally and are protected in national treaties, conventions, and norms, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention American Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States itself.”

Ramos also quoted Marcial Padilla, director of the pro-life platform ConParticipación,  who agreed that this “is a sad day in the history of Mexico.”

“On this day, the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico carried out the greatest injustice, the supreme injustice, which is to take away the protection of the law from children before they are born,” Padilla said.

Opponents and supporters of the decision alike agreed that abortion would not be immediately available nationwide. Paula Avila-Guillén, the  executive director of pro-abortion Women’s Equality Center, told NBC News “there will be two ways abortion will be decriminalized throughout the country.

“One is the case-by-case path, in which individuals and organizations sue in the Supreme Court,” she said. “But there is also a proactive option: that the states change their laws to match the judicial decision.”

However, Marcial Padilla said that “abortion does not solve any of the woman’s problems”, but rather “leaves her alone and makes her the mother of a dead child.” Ramos wrote that Padilla also said that “we will also have to begin to identify strategies to find what protection we can give our children before they are born.”

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