September 8, 2023

News |

Mexico’s Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the regulation of abortion in the federal criminal code

Another historic victory for the Green Wave movement

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Federal Penal Code’s abortion regulations are unconstitutional, including the criminalization of individuals who have abortions and the health-care providers who perform them.

Mexico now joins a growing list of Latin American countries that have liberalized national abortion laws in recent years in response to the Green Wave feminist movement. 

“This is huge progress in the recognition of reproductive rights,” says María Antonieta Alcalde, director of Ipas Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are very proud to be part of the Green Wave movement that has worked so hard to advance women’s rights.” Ipas has worked in Mexico since 1995, supporting the state and federal health systems, training abortion providers, building advocates for reproductive rights and educating communities about sexual and reproductive health.

The ruling highlights how Mexico, along with other countries in Latin America, are increasingly recognizing the reproductive autonomy of women, girls, and adolescents, and their right to make informed decisions about their own bodies. 

“This is a huge and historic victory for Mexico and for the entire region—one that puts human rights front and center,” says Anu Kumar, Ipas president and CEO. “This ruling takes abortion out of the criminal code and returns it to where it belongs—as a matter of health and rights.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling will ensure that abortion is legally available in all federal health institutions—including in every state where abortion remains illegal according to state law (some states had already made abortion legal prior to this federal ruling). Advocates for abortion access will now continue pushing for state-level law change where abortion restrictions persist.

“The court’s ruling shows that the path this country must follow in legislative matters is the decriminalization of abortion in each and every Mexican state,” Alcalde says. In 2021, the court issued a decision that started moving the country down this path, ruling that one specific state’s penal code was unconstitutional for criminalizing abortion—setting a precedent for all other states and future court cases.

A huge step forward while the U.S. goes backward

While many countries are expanding access to abortion services in Latin America and around the world, the United States is rolling back reproductive rights—most notably with the repeal of Roe v. Wade last year. 

“Mexico is now part of a group of countries leading on reproductive freedom, whereas the United States is denying it,” Kumar says. “Those of us in the U.S. should look to Mexico and the rest of the Green Wave movement for inspiration.”

Ipas in the news on Mexico’s historic law change

Latin American abortion rights activists just notched another win in Mexico – in Vox

Mexican activists hail aboriton ruling but warn of lack of access to care – in The Guardian

‘Green Wave continues’ across Latin America as Mexican Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion – in Common Dreams

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