Mexico’s Oaxaca State decriminalizes abortion and makes history

Mexico’s Oaxaca State has become only the second state in the country to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A revision to the state’s penal code means that women and girls can now legally access abortion services—including from public health centers—without fear of prosecution. 

“We celebrate this reform, as the government of Oaxaca now has the historic opportunity to eliminate forced pregnancy and ensure that women in this state have access to high-quality reproductive health services using the safest technologies,” says María Antonieta Alcalde, director of Ipas Central America and Mexico. 

Previously, women in Oaxaca State could legally access abortion only in cases of sexual violence, risk to a woman’s health or fetal abnormality. Ipas has worked in Oaxaca State for the last 20 years, helping to train health providers in safe abortion care and to educate decisionmakers on the importance of safe, legal abortion. Ipas has also trained medical students on the topic of safe abortion and worked to build support for legal abortion using scientific evidence of the positive impact on women’s health.

“We applaud the efforts of the local women’s organizations that pushed this decriminalization process forward,” says Fernanda Diaz de León Ballesteros, coordinator of policy and advocacy for Ipas Mexico. “We hope the reform of the penal code will be accompanied by effective, concrete actions to guarantee access to high-quality services so women can fully exercise their rights.”

Since the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007, no other federal state had reformed their abortion laws to protect women’s reproductive health decisions and facilitate their ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. Since 2007, more than 215,000 women from across Mexico have received safe, legal abortions in Mexico City. 

For more information, contact media@ipas.org.

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