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Mexico Supreme Court rules Federal Penal Code’s criminalization of abortion is unconstitutional

by | Sep 7, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

Building on an early decision, the Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional that part of the federal penal code that criminalized abortion. Responding on social media, the justices decision “mak[es] abortion legally accessible in all federal health institutions across the country,” according to the New York Times. “It also ruled against bans on medical providers, including midwives, who perform the procedure” according to Simon Romero and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega of the New York Times

“Following the approval of the draft ruling, a substantially same final version will be issued in which the judges may express their individual opinions.”

The judgement “follows a similar ruling two years ago that stated abortion is not a crime,” according to Juan Montes.

“That declaration came after a constitutional challenge to the northern state of Coahuila’s penal code, which gave women access to abortion without fear of prosecution in the country.”

The ruling “orders Mexico’s Congress to overhaul the code and requires federal government hospitals to provide abortions,” Montes added. “About 70% of Mexicans rely on free healthcare provided by the government in a conservative country where around three-quarters of the population are Catholic.”

The ruling states in part

This First Chamber considers that the declaration of unconstitutionality translates into a tangible benefit for the plaintiff civil association, in terms of the correct development of its corporate purpose, since it will allow it to guarantee that the women and persons with the capacity to gestate that it accompanies have access to services of safe and quality abortion, and that neither they nor the personnel who seeks an interruption of the pregnancy are criminalized under any circumstances.

The Catholic News Agency wrote that

The Mexican Supreme Court first ruled that criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional in 2021, but that ruling applied only to the state of Coahuila, which borders Texas. Other Mexican states have already eliminated criminal penalties for the procedure, with Aguascalientes becoming the 12th to do so last week.

Wednesday’s ruling has no effect on local laws, and abortion remains illegal in 20 of the country’s 32 states. But even in those states, women can now legally seek abortion in federal hospitals and clinics. The ruling also prohibits employees at these facilities from being penalized for carrying out abortions.

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, became the first to decriminalise abortion in 2007.

Categories: Abortion