The state legislature of Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz has become the 4th of the 32 states to legalise abortion up to 12 weeks. The vote, on 20 July 2021, was 25-13 with one abstention. The aim was to clear away criminal penalties for elective abortion.
The other states to have changed the law to date are: Mexico City (2007), Oaxaca (2019) and Hidalgo (2021).
The reform was of Articles 149, 150, 151, 153 and 154 of the state Penal Code to will allow the free termination of pregnancy, as well as the repeal of Article 152, which called for penalties of six months to four years in prison and a fine of up to 50 days’ salary, for anyone who causes an abortion. The reform also modernised the grounds for the crime of abortion after three months of pregnancy to make them more specific. For example, it has now been established that abortion will be a crime if it is carried out against the will of the pregnant woman.
The news was received with great emotion by feminist groups who have been campaigning for decades. They have been joined by hundreds of organisations, politicians and personalities who for years have claimed this right for women in Mexico and throughout Latin America. “It is a first great step in the autonomy of women and a surprise in such a conservative state,” says Arussi Unda, spokesperson for the Brujas del Mar collective. “Abortion must come hand in hand with comprehensive sexuality education, universal access to contraceptives … It is a palliative for a deeper problem. ” Unda considered the Penal Code of Veracruz one of the strictest in the country regarding abortion. “Veracruz was a nightmare for women,” she said. “Despite the law allowing abortion in a case of rape, this was not the case in practice. In Xalapa there is a shelter where they take girls who are victims of sexual violence and force them to give birth,” she said.
The problem of gender-based violence that affects all levels of women’s lives and has made Veracruz one of the most dangerous Mexican states in which to be a woman, with the third most frequent femicides in the country and with five among the 100 cities nationally with the highest incidence of this crime, according to official figures.
“Continuing to maintain abortion as a crime, not only impacted on the loss of freedom, it implied a denial of medical care if an obstetric emergency arises, or a spontaneous abortion, or when the woman’s health is at risk or when they have been victims of rape,” said Rebeca Ramos, director of GIRE (Group of Information on Reproductive Choice).
During the session, Mónica Robles, a Morenista who presented the bill to reform the Penal Code, pointed out that her political party is in favour of life and the right of women to decide on their bodies: “Penalising abortion does not prevent it from being practised, but it means it is practised in unsafe and clandestine conditions where women and young people put their lives at risk.”
There are currently initiatives to decriminalise abortion tabled in almost all the country’s state legislatures, though there not yet been a vote in many of them. In Yucatán, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Quintana Roo, Colima, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Jalisco, Puebla, Chiapas and Nayarit, abortion is only allowed under certain grounds, including the crime of rape, the life of the woman is in danger or there is a malformation in the fetus.
This was not the first time that the feminist movement and civil society organisations promoted a change in the law in Veracruz to decriminalise abortion. In July 2020, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation rejected a state ruling that sought to force the state legislature to decriminalise abortion. It has taken another year to reach the decision this week, but step by step (concludes the article) “the green tide makes its way through Mexico”.
SOURCES: El País, by Almudena Barragán, 20 July 2021 ; Saltwire.com, by Daina Beth Solomon, 21 July 2021 ; ABC News, by Associated Press, 20 July 2021 ; ICWRSA Newsletter, 31 July 2020. PHOTO: Rio Times, from Veracruz, 20 July 2021
Supreme Court ruling in case of refused abortion following rape of a minor with cerebral palsy
Mexico’s Supreme Court paved the way on 7 July 2021 for legal abortion after more than three months for rape victims, in a ruling concerning a minor with cerebral palsy. The Court declared unconstitutional an article in the Chiapas state Criminal Code which prevented her from having an abortion.
The director of a public hospital in the city of Tapachula had refused to proceed with the operation because she was more than 90 days pregnant, the Supreme Court said in a press release. “This delay implied a total disregard of human dignity and the rights of women. The Chiapas district judge ignored the victim’s situation and the fact that she was a minor. The health authority’s refusal resulted in a series of serious human rights violations against the victim and her mother. The Supreme Court awarded them damages.
While the ruling only applies to this case, it could set a precedent for further legal challenges involving rape victims, depending on the circumstances, a judicial source told Agence France Presse.
SOURCE: ICI Radio Canada, Agence France Presse, 8 July 2021