The Supreme Court of Mexico declared this Tuesday unconstitutional to punish abortion in a unanimous vote that opens the door for women from all over the country to access this procedure.
“With this unanimous criterion (…) from now on it will not be possible, without violating the criteria of the court and the constitution, to prosecute any woman who aborts in the cases that this court has considered valid,” said the president of the court, Arturo Zaldívar.
The plenary session of the court session for two days to discuss an appeal of unconstitutionality against articles of the penal code of the state of Coahuila that punished with up to three years in prison to women who abort and those who facilitate it.
These articles were declared unconstitutional with the vote of the 10 magistrates present, which establishes jurisprudence, that is to say that the judges must apply the criteria established by this ruling.
A judicial source explained that this sentence has national scope since it would allow women residing in states where abortion is criminalized to access it by order of a judge through an appeal.
“The woman must request (the health services) to perform the abortion, when it is denied, may go before a judge and promote an amparo and based on this sentence, it must be granted and the judge will order that the abortion be performed, “Alex Alí Méndez, a constitutional lawyer and expert on abortion issues, told AFP.
A third effect of this resolution, added the lawyer, is that it will be a tool for those women who are imprisoned for having an abortion. can regain their freedom.
Mexico is a federated country where the states are autonomous to dictate their laws, but these are invalidated, through the amparos, when they contravene Supreme Court rulings that they feel jurisprudence like this Tuesday.
Mexico City decriminalized abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation in 2007 and is performed free of charge in the mayor’s clinics regardless of whether the women live in other districts.
Abortion, whose criminalization is a local competence, is only decriminalized in four of the 32 states of the country: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Hidalgo and Veracruz.
The ruling now, derived from a challenge by the defunct Attorney General’s Office (PGR) against the Penal Code of Coahuila in 2017, only invalidates the legislation in Coahuila, but it establishes a “mandatory criterion” for all judges, said Arturo Zaldívar, president of the SCJN.
“Hereinafter It will not be possible, without violating the criteria of the Court and the Constitution, prosecute any woman who has an abortion in the cases that this constitutional court has considered valid. From now on a new route of freedom begins, “concluded the minister-president.
Although the Supreme Court has already ruled on abortion in other cases, the ruling now is “fundamental” because for the first time it addresses the crime, explained Selma Maxinez, a lawyer with the Feminist Circle of Legal Analysis, to Efe.
“We are living a historical event“This is going to be a very important judicial precedent for the entire Mexican legal system, to go one step further, in this difficult context in which we live, regarding respect for women’s rights,” he said.
In addition, the feminist jurist highlighted the arguments presented by the SCJN ministers, who agreed to defend “the right to decide”, a concept that the Supreme Court addressed for the first time.
“Punishing women for deciding on their body when terminating their pregnancy is gender violence and this is discriminatory against women“Maxinez quoted.
Likewise, women and organizations for reproductive rights will now be able to take advantage of the precedent to combat the criminalization of abortion in other state penal codes through the courts, added Isabel Anayanssi Orizaga, a member of Mexicanas Resistiendo desde el Extranjero.
“This has created a tide or series of ripple effects, where eventually, all states that do not allow abortion or still have it penalized, these actions of unconstitutionality may also reach, “said the lawyer.
The Supreme Court, he added, also “sends a message to congresses to fulfill their obligations in the matter of human rightss and that it is something very symbolic for the sexual and reproductive rights of women and pregnant people.
Source: AFP and EFE