Despite the historic ruling of the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional to imprison women for having abortions, banishing the criminalization of the entire country seems far away.
The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation has accelerated the pace by declaring unconstitutional imprisoning women for aborting, as well as legislating on “human life from conception” by going against the sexual and reproductive rights of Mexican women. The sentences mark a historical precedent, but there is still a long way to go before the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is no longer illegal in 28 of the 32 states of the country.
Aborting in Mexico is both a right and a crime that is regulated at the local level. Depending on which of the 32 Mexican states you are standing on, there are certain circumstances, called non-punishable grounds, under which each Penal Code does not punish or consider it a crime. In cases of rape, interrupting a pregnancy is guaranteed through Official Mexican Standard 046. Only four entities authorize voluntary abortion up to week 12 of gestation: Mexico City (since 2007), Oaxaca (2019), Veracruz, and Hidalgo ( 2021). Other valid grounds for legally interrupting a pregnancy are rape (throughout the country), reckless or wrongful abortion (in 29 states), danger of death for the mother (24), risks to her health (16), serious disorders in the product (16), non-consensual artificial insemination (15) and economic reasons (2).
Despite the Court’s ruling that invalidates a portion of the Coahuila Penal Code for criminalizing women for having abortions, there is no immediate obligation to modify the laws in the rest of the States, points out Isabel Fulda, deputy director of the pro-abortion organization GIRE.
“The message from the ministers is very powerful, especially the decision being unanimous, but legislative changes are still pending in each Congress,” she points out. However, judges who review cases of women criminalized for abortion throughout the country have to meet these criteria and therefore not prosecute them criminally, Isabel Fulda concluded.