MEXICO – Bill tabled to reform the Criminal Code to legalise abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

On 30 July 2019, the governing Morena Party’s parliamentarians’ group has tabled a bill to reform the Criminal Code to legalise abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so that women are not criminalised and are guaranteed a safe abortion on the health service. The initiative was led by Deputies Nancy Nápoles Pacheco, María de Jesús Galicia Ramos and María del Rosario Elizalde Vázquez. The bill also includes the provision of comprehensive sexuality education, facilitating access to effective contraceptive methods, prevention campaigns to disseminate information about women’s right to health and health care, and reproductive and sexual rights – as well as the right to privacy and the right to decide.

The aim is also to establish a comprehensive counselling and support programme for both women and men, adolescents and girls and boys on the development of life, personal relationships, reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, family planning methods, post-abortion counselling, and more. Some of the outcomes they want to achieve with these measures are that women’s lives would be saved and treatment for preventable complications of unsafe abortion would not be needed.

Anyone who causes a woman to have an abortion against her will would be subject to imprisonment for 3-6 years and more if violence against her is also involved. Abortion would be legal after 12 weeks on grounds of rape, risk to the woman’s life, and congenital or genetic fetal anomalies. The state health system will be required to provide legal abortion services and pre- and post-abortion medical and psychological support services if requested by the woman.

In Mexico, unsafe abortion is the 4th highest cause of deaths in women. This makes it a matter of public health and of the lack of protection of women who are in a situation of vulnerability and who have limited or no access to good quality public services, both for education and health-related.

On 6 August 2019, it was announced that the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico has ordered all public hospitals to terminate any pregnancy due to rape at the woman’s request, without her having to obtain the permission of the Public Ministry. The word of the affected person and a written request for abortion will suffice. In children under 12 years, the request must be made by a parent or guardian.

SOURCES: El Sol de Mexico, 30 July 2019 ; CNN Espanol, 7 August 2019 ; Cultura Colectiva, by Lau Almaraz, 6 August 2019 ; PHOTO: Deputy Nancy Napoles Pacheco, Twitter: Legislatura EdoMex, 30 July 2019 ; PHOTO: Rally, by Roberto Hernandez, El Sol de Mexico, 30 July 2019