Activists in Mexico have hailed a supreme court decision to decriminalise abortion, saying it would stop the legal prosecution of women who terminate their pregnancies – and those reported to the authorities after suffering miscarriages.
The decision, handed down unanimously on Tuesday, declared that criminal sanctions for abortion in the northern state of Coahuila were unconstitutional. The decision sets precedent, according to lawyers involved in abortion cases, and will be applicable across the country.
The ruling came just days after the US supreme court refused to block a near-total ban on abortion in Texas, and has prompted speculation that women in the US state may head across the border to seek terminations.
In the past two years, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Hidalgo followed Mexico City’s 2007 precedent and decriminalised abortion, but activists say elective abortions are still difficult to obtain in those states because medical workers refuse to make the procedure available.
On Wednesday, one Mexican state governor announced he would release all women imprisoned for having abortions.
Coahuila’s governor, Miguel Riquelme, said in a statement “the resolution will have retroactive effects, and if there is any woman deprived of her freedom for the crime of abortion, she must be released immediately.”
Activists and lawyers say the ruling is likely to bring about a change in legal culture and fewer criminal investigations, as the justices based their decision on human rights arguments and a woman’s right to decide rather than on legal technicalities.
Click on the link in bio to read more about the ruling and what it means for women in Mexico.
Photos: Daniel Becerril/Reuters