The Supreme Court has ruled that an abortion law in Mexico violates its constitution.
In Mexico’s northern Coahuila state, women who had abortions and the people who aided them could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Ten supreme court judges voted that this law is unconstitutional on September 7, The Washington Post reported. Now, women who are charged after undergoing an abortion can sue the state to have their charges dropped. This is a major win for activists who have been pushing for gender equality and the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America.
“Abortion has been effectively decriminalized in Mexico,” Paula Avila-Guillen, executive director of New York’s Women’s Equality Center, said. “And every woman currently imprisoned in the country for abortion can use this precedent to be freed.”
Currently, the four countries in Latin America that offer abortions legally are Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana. In Mexico, abortion is legal in Oaxaca, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Mexico City.
“This will not only have an impact in Mexico; it will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region,” Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for the Mexican feminist organization GIRE, told the Post.
There isn’t any data available on how many Mexican women have been jailed for getting abortions but GIRE found that there were at least 500 trials regarding the matter between 2007 and 2016. Even though it’s not legal throughout all of Mexico, there are still over one million abortions performed under unsafe conditions each year, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Supreme Court Judge Zaldívar told the New York Times that this ruling is the first step in the right direction regarding abortion rights.
“Now begins a new path of freedom, of clarity, of dignity and respect for all pregnant people, but above all, for women,” he said. “Today is one more step in the historic fight for their equality, for their dignity and for the full exercise of their rights.”
This ruling comes a week after the Supreme Court voted in favor of a Texas abortion law that bans all abortions in the state after 6 weeks of pregnancy.