Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion Wednesday, September 6, 2023, in a ruling that struck down the country’s federal penal code, which had banned abortion since 1931.
“The First Chamber of the Court ruled that the legal system that penalizes abortion in the Federal Criminal Code is unconstitutional since it violates the human rights of women and people with the capacity to gestate,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.
The court also described the laws as “discriminatory” against medical personnel who perform abortions and called on Mexico’s Congress to respond.
The statement did not reference the preborn children who are dismembered, lethally injected, or chemically starved and suffocated in abortion procedures.
The decision comes two years after the court unanimously struck down a state abortion ban in Coahuila, along the Texas border, deeming it unconstitutional to criminalize abortion in certain circumstances.
As of last week, abortion had been decriminalized in 12 of Mexico’s states. Mexico City was the first district in the country to legalize abortion in 2007, a move which, according to pro-life organization Steps for Life, has led to the deaths of over a million preborn children.
Though abortion remains illegal in 20 of Mexico’s 32 states, the ruling forces federal health care facilities to provide abortions to women who request them, even in states that have banned abortion. Pro-choice activists expect the court will now attempt to eliminate the country’s remaining abortion restrictions state by state.
Despite the setback, pro-life leaders continue to fight for the rights of the youngest members of the human family. “We’re not going to stop,” Irma Barrientos, director of the Civil Association for the Rights of the Conceived, told the Associated Press.
“Let’s remember what happened in the United States. After 40 years, the Supreme Court reversed its abortion decision, and we’re not going to stop until Mexico guarantees the right to life from the moment of conception,” she said, referencing the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling that reversed Roe v. Wade after 49 years.
As more U.S. states are extending legal protections for preborn children, Americans have begun traveling to Mexico for abortions. NBC interviewed two women who dispense abortion pills out of their home in Monterrey. After Texas banned abortions on children with a detectable heartbeat, the women said they went from seeing about two to three American women a year to five or more a week.
Mexico is the latest Latin American country to remove protections for preborn children in a so-called “green wave,” named for the green bandanas worn by abortion-choice protestors. Argentina legalized abortion in 2020, and Columbia followed suit in 2022. Uruguay and Guyana also permit abortions during the child’s first few weeks of life. In Cuba, abortion has been legal for decades.
In April, 25,000 people attended Mexico City’s March for Life. Last year, more than a million people marched across 30 Mexican states in the national March for Life, and the organizers are gearing up for the next march on October 8, 2023.
As one pro-choice activist from the state of Guerrero put it, “There is still a lot of resistance.”
Pro-life advocates remain hopeful. In a post on social media, March for Life organizers wrote:
“Aunque algunos confronten a una embarazada contra su hijo antes de nacer, ¡nosotros seguimos creyendo en México! Más que nunca vamos a responder al mal con el bien. Vamos a anunciar que México quiere confiando siempre en la vida.”
The English translation reads, “Even though some put a pregnant mother face to face against her unborn child, we continue to believe in Mexico! More than ever we will respond to evil with good. We will declare that Mexico always wants to believe in life.”