Over half of Mexico’s states have laws that ban abortion in all circumstances, but for the past several weeks the international press and abortion activists have been hopeful that legal abortion would be imposed on the entire country, Roe v. Wade style, by Mexico’s Supreme Court. Yesterday, thank God, disaster was averted. From the BBC:
Mexico’s Supreme Court has rejected a landmark injunction on abortion rights across the country. The case revolved around an injunction granted in the eastern state of Veracruz, which would have effectively decriminalised termination in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Campaigners hoped the ruling would set a precedent for similar injunctions in other states. Abortion is legal in just two of Mexico’s 32 states.
In an article last week, reproductive rights organisation GIRE said they hoped the court’s decision would be a “historic opportunity” for pro-choice campaigners. But at the hearing today, four out of the Supreme Court’s five justices voted against upholding the injunction. One justice, delivering her verdict, said that upholding the decision would “greatly overstep the constitutional powers of this Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation”. Another voted against it because of what she called “a legal technicality”.
Last year, a judge in Xalapa, Veracruz, approved an injunction ordering the state’s Congress to remove articles 149, 150 and 154 of the local penal code. The case then went to Mexico’s Supreme Court, which needed to decide whether to uphold that judge’s decision. Removing these articles would have decriminalised abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, allowed terminations for health reasons, and gotten rid of the time limit on abortions in cases of rape. These changes were first recommended in a wide-ranging report on women’s rights, published by the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (Conavim) and the National Institute for Women (InMujeres) in 2016.
The state government accepted the proposals and conclusions of the report in March 2017 – but has still not reformed the law.
I cannot overstate how happy this news makes me. As I’ve noted often over the past several years, one of the little-known stories of the past decade is the astronomical growth of the pro-life movement in South America and Latin America, where millions have taken to the streets and defeated abortion legislation in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and now, Mexico. To see these extraordinary demonstrations and to watch millions of people rise up in defence of pre-born children is incredibly encouraging, and this Supreme Court ruling—which wasn’t even close—will keep tens of thousands of pre-born children safe in the womb.
Some days, the good guys win. This was one of those days.