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Mexico’s Supreme Court declares unconstitutional law criminalizing abortion

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Mexican Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) on Tuesday, September 7, declared the unconstitutionality of the criminalization of women and people who choose to have an abortion in the first stage of pregnancy and recognized the right to decide, thus becoming a historic ruling in Mexico’s history.

Unanimously, the SCJN plenary Justices overturned Article 196 of the criminal code of the state of Coahuila, which imposed a prison term of between 1 and 3 years “to women who voluntarily have an abortion or to the person who causes them to have an abortion with their consent.”

Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the criminalization of abortion unconstitutional. (Photo internet reproduction)

“There is no room within this Constitutional Court’s jurisprudential doctrine for a scenario in which women and people with capacity to gestate are unable to decide whether to continue or terminate their pregnancy,” argued Justice Luis María Aguilar, who submitted the resolution to the Superior Chamber.

The criminalization of abortion is a local competence and is only legalized (up to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) in 4 of the 32 states of the country: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Hidalgo and Veracruz.

The resolution was submitted after a suit fo an injunction was filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGR) against the Coahuila Penal Code in 2017.

Today’s SCJN decision only overturns the Coahuila state’s Penal Code; however, it sets a binding precedent for all courts in Mexico to rule in favor of women who decide to terminate a pregnancy in other states of the republic.

“This represents a guarantee that women or pregnant persons who so decide may terminate their pregnancies in public health institutions in an accessible, free, confidential, safe, expeditious and non-discriminatory procedure,” stated the final ruling.

On the same issue, Justice Norma Piña said that the state must not completely criminalize abortion, since doing so would restrict the right of women or pregnant persons to decide over their own bodies.

“The state must not only refrain from completely criminalizing abortion, restricting the right of women or pregnant persons to decide over their own body, but it must also guarantee minimum conditions for this to be possible,” added the judge during the Superior Chamber’s plenary session.

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