Just recently after the passing of the Texas Heartbeat Bill, Mexico, one of the most conservative countries in the world has just announced that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional. This has just made Mexico become the most populous Latin American country in the world to decriminalize abortion. This decision was not expected since Mexico is extremely conservative and Catholic. That being said, the news has not been well received by everyone and has been deeply rejected by the Catholic Church and certain politicians, particularly the conservative National Action Party.
The main goal of decriminalizing abortion was primarily started because feminist advocates were trying to erase the action of women being jailed because they received an abortion. This was, according to the Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Saldivar, an important stepping stone in protecting the rights of women and specifically vulnerable women. Having stated the cause for the law, it is also important to highlight what inspired Mexican activists to take on this challenge given the sociopolitical atmosphere. Supporters of abortion have grown throughout Latin America and with Argentina’s win last year, morale boost became high. This law must be represented throughout Mexico because if a state decides not to follow through, then they are defying the Constitution. This means that all state governments must comply with the law, this ensures the law will not be undermined. Abortion advocates did follow through with their goal since women that were penalized for abortion are going to receive a path to be set free. For example, the women that have been penalized can now sue their state governments to have their charges dropped.
Even with the controversial ruling, many feminists across Latin America understand that there is still more work to be done. As young girls, abortion is described as an illegal procedure and would ultimately lead to death. Even though the decision is still a win, obtaining the procedure is still not widely accessible. We should also not forget the shameful stigma revolving around abortion and the fact that just because abortion has been decriminalized, it does not mean that it has been legalized. Just as how there is a close split between the varying opinions within Mexico, it is the same for the rest of Latin America where in some countries abortion is legal and others banned, regardless of the situation.
Why don’t we discuss some of the factors and reactions of September 7? With the Mexican Catholic Church holding a strong influence over Mexican citizens, they of course are deeply resentful of the path Mexico has decided to take. They urged Congress not to make such a big decision because of peer pressure. Maybe if the church weren’t involved in so many scandals, they could have overturned this ruling, but as time progresses, their voice in the government seems to be diminishing. Another factor as to why this decision was made is because of the youth who are more aware of social problems. This could be thanks to how rapidly information spreads with the help of technology and the promotion of gender equality thanks to feminist organizations.
One of the Justices involved, Arturo Zaldivar, might have been influenced as trying to prove that he in fact is progressive which was questioned because of his relationship with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), in which AMLO, supposedly being left-leaning, has not satisfied Mexican feminists. Even with this historical decision, feminist groups understand that if they do not keep their government in check, then there will always be someone trying to oppress women’s rights, more so because this ruling will lead to more progression for women if other regions follow through with it. As of right now, only 4 of the 32 Mexican states allow abortion in most circumstances. There is more work to be done, but with the new ruling, feminist organizations are more hopeful in getting Mexico, and overall Latin America to be a place for gender equality.