Mexico Supreme Court Recognizes a Constitutional Right to Abortion

A “watershed” for women’s rights in the world’s second-largest Catholic country.

This article was originally published by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The Mexican Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday unanimously recognizing a constitutional right to legal, safe, and free abortion services at the initial stages of pregnancy, as well as in other situations outlined by the Court. The Court’s president, Arturo Zaldívar, hailed the decision as “a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.”

The Court’s unanimous decision came in a lawsuit on an abortion ban in the State of Coahuila, but it impacts the entire country. Mexico is the second-largest predominantly Roman Catholic country in the world, after Brazil. The Catholic Church opposes all forms of abortion procedures.

The Mexico decision recognizes that the Constitution protects the right to make decisions about reproductive autonomy and recognizes that not giving women the right to safe and legal abortion is contrary to that right, under the circumstances indicated by the Court in previous sentences. The decision not only refers to abortion as a right of women and girls, but also of people with gestational capacity.

Based in Bogotá, Colombia, the Center’s LAC program works to ensure that reproductive rights are recognized as human rights at the national, regional and international levels.

“No other court in the region has stated this right as clearly and it is a strong example of how Inter-American System standards are being applied in national courts: by recognizing and protecting women’s right to decide,” said Catalina Martínez Coral, Senior Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Colombia Court Also to Rule on Abortion Decriminalization

“This decision sets an historic precedent for the country and for the entire region,” added Martínez Coral. “We hope this case will be a reference for Colombia, where the Constitutional Court will soon rule in a case that could decriminalize abortion in that country as well.”

The Colombia lawsuit was filed by the Causa Justa (Just Cause) Movement, of which the Center is a member.  The movement aims to eliminate abortion as a crime from the penal code and end the risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment.

Earlier this year, Argentina— the largest country in Latin America—enacted a law to legalize abortion care.

“The decriminalization of abortion is a necessary advancement for women’s rights and an essential step toward the provision of abortion in safe conditions,” said Martinez Coral. “Mexico must now take the next step and enact laws and policies to legalize abortion services based on this historic ruling.”

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