Mexico has become the latest Latin American country to join the ‘green’ wave, a movement to lift abortion restrictions.
Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion at the federal level, joining the trend of abortion legalization in Latin America.
The court confirmed its decision in a statement on social media on Wednesday.
“The legal system that punishes abortion in the Federal Criminal Code is unconstitutional because it violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to carry a fetus,” it wrote.
The decision comes in response to a legal appeal launched by the Information Group for Chosen Reproduction (GIRE), a human rights organization focused on reproductive rights.
The group the decision was celebrated on social media, calling it “unbelievable”.
With this decision, GIRE explained, “federal health institutions throughout the country must provide abortion services to women and people with the capacity to become pregnant who request them”.
GIRE punctuated its post with a green heart and hashtags like #SeptiembreVerde — or “Green September” — in reference to the color that has become a symbol of the abortion rights movement throughout Latin America.
In the past, abortion was legal throughout the country in cases of rape, but otherwise, its legality was decided on a state-by-state basis.
In 2007, the Mexico City federal district became the first place to decriminalize the practice of pregnancy up to 12 weeks.
Other states have since followed suit. Last week, on August 30, Aguascalientes in central Mexico became the 12th state or federal district to decriminalize abortion, joining places like Oaxaca, Baja California and Veracruz.
Wednesday’s decision follows an earlier Supreme Court decision in September 2021 that also determined that punishing abortion patients is unconstitutional.
That decision, however, focused on the northern state of Coahuila, along the border with the United States.
But across the country, in places where abortion remains criminal, women face charges of manslaughter and other crimes for allegedly going ahead with the procedure — or even getting a botched abortion. .
Wednesday’s decision will have nationwide ramifications. Arturo Zaldivar, the former president of the Supreme Court, announced the verdict with a post on social media: “The green tide continues to rise. All rights for all pregnant women!”
However, religious and conservative groups in the heavily Catholic country have opposed efforts to decriminalize abortion, citing beliefs about the rights of unborn fetuses.
According to the 2020 census, about 78 percent of the population identified as Catholic, making Mexico home to the second largest Catholic population in the world.
However, of the estimated 3,830,000 pregnancies in Mexico between 2015 and 2019, approximately 1,040,000 ended in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports access to abortion.
While Mexico’s northern neighbor, the United States, repealed the federal right to abortion in 2022, some Latin American countries have recently moved to relax restrictions on the procedure.
In 2022, for example, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that abortion can be obtained up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. And in Argentina, the country’s congress approved a law that will legalize the procedure in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy in December 2020.
But even in countries where abortion is decriminalized, access is not necessarily readily available. Doctors refused to provide the procedure, and opponents of abortion filed legal challenges to restore the restrictions.