Mexico’s supreme court ruled to decriminalize abortion. The unanimous vote came down on Tuesday and is being called a major victory for advocates of women’s health.
According to NPR, Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar said, “Today is a watershed in the history of the rights of women and pregnant people, above all the most vulnerable.”
The decision comes down just as the United States is establishing strict laws for women seeking an abortion, specifically across the border in Texas. Reproductive rights activists have urged President Biden’s administration to respond to the outlandish restrictions that prohibit abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy.
In several countries across Latin America abortion remains illegal despite a growing movement supporting women’s rights. The Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaguara all consider abortion illegal under any circumstances.
Other Latin American countries allow abortion under varying circumstances. However, Cuba, Argentina, Guyana, and Uruguay are among the only countries that allow a woman to have an abortion under various circumstances and stages of pregnancy.
Tuesday’s ruling does not automatically make abortion legal across the country of Mexico. It does however set a precedent for judges to follow. Those advocating for abortion rights plan to use this latest ruling to overturn laws in places where abortion is criminalized. They also plan to push states to free women who are serving time in prison for having had abortions.
Not only does Mexico have half of its National Congress made up of female politicians, the country has seen years of protests from women supporting women’s rights. And they have had a big mountain to climb, particularly as Mexico is the second most popular Roman Catholic Country and the decision was condemned by the Church.
The Episcopal Conference of Mexico (an organization of Catholic Bishops) tweeted, “Those of us who are convinced of the value of life do not have a need for a homicidal law like the one they are approving.”
In the meantime, Judge Zalvídar sees the recent ruling as a step closer to a revolution of Mexican society. “Now begins a new path of freedom, of clarity, of dignity and respect for all pregnant people, but above all, for women,” he said according to The New York Times. “Today is one more step in the historic fight for their equality, for their dignity and for the full exercise of their rights.”