As abortion restrictions tighten in Texas, Mexico’s highest court ruled to decriminalize the procedure, possibly paving the way for more widespread legal abortion in that country.
Mary Beth Sheridan, Mexico and Central America correspondent for The Washington Post, told Texas Standard that Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that criminal penalties for abortion were unconstitutional. She expects it to lead to broader changes to state and local abortion laws and removal of the criminal penalties associated with them.
“The expectation is that states will begin to create new avenues, or broaden the legal avenues, for abortion. So, it won’t lead to legalized abortion overnight, but there is an expectation that in many states it will become easier to get an abortion,” she said.
Abortions have so far been legal up to 12 weeks into a person’s pregnancy in Mexico City and in a handful of the country’s 31 states. Elsewhere, the rules were more stringent.
The push to decriminalize abortion in Mexico has been a hard-fought one. Pro-abortion activists have retooled their messaging in recent years, Sheridan says, to focus on the laws’ disproportionately negative effects on poor and young Mexicans. Many who have sought abortions have had to do so in secret. Sheridan cites an estimate of about 1 million illegal abortions each year in Mexico.
“The fact there’s so much illegal abortion, which is often clandestine, you know, without a doctor, means that there are many cases of women who wind up harmed or even dead because of the ways in which they try to terminate their pregnancy,” she said.
To reiterate, the court’s ruling doesn’t legalize abortion, but it could set the stage for that in the future. For now, it takes away punishments like imprisonment for those who’ve had abortions.
Sheridan says it could also lead to some Texans seeking abortions to do so in Mexico, since Texas is further restricting the treatment.