Stating criminal penalties for women seeking an abortion to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Mexico has effectively decriminalised abortion. The court has ordered the state of Coahuila to remove the sanctions on abortion from its criminal code, paving the way for the rest of the 31 states in Mexico. The landmark ruling sets a precedent for other cases, saving women from persecution for exercising their right to choose to abort.
A largely Catholic country, Mexico has seen various protests in support of women’s rights over the years. The latest ruling comes as a relief to the elated feminists in the country. It is bound to impact a huge chunk of the 130 million-odd people in the country. The women there will also be able to sue the state authorities if they are arrested for seeking an abortion.
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This ruling comes at the heels of the Texas abortion law that has pushed the US decades back with respect to the reproductive rights of women. It puts anyone helping a woman get access to abortion at risk of persecution by vigilantes. It effectively makes abortion inaccessible for women, including survivors of gender-based sexual crimes.
The women’s rights movement in Mexico is inspired by the protests that led to the legalisation of abortion in Argentina last year. The green handkerchief has been associated with the struggle, with women using it as a symbol to highlight their support for sexual and reproductive rights. While it is still a long way to go for women in Latin America to get proper, safe and legal access to abortions, this is a huge step in the right direction.