Pin It
A group of women pose in front of the National Palace in the Zocalo in Mexico City to mark the International Day of Global Action in favour of legal, free and safe abortion in MexicoPhoto by Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mexico has just decriminalised abortion across the country

‘No woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be able to be punished for abortion’

Waves of celebration are sweeping across Mexico after the country’s Supreme Court ruled to decriminalise abortion, making access to the procedure safe and legal across all 32 states. This marks a major breakthrough for the reproductive rights activists who have been campaigning for the ruling for the past two years. 

The decision was announced yesterday (September 7) by the justices, who unanimously agreed that the previous ban on abortion was completely unconstitutional. They reached the decision after the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE) brought a case challenging the federal penal code. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with GIRE, and declared that the section of national law that made abortion illegal was no longer appropriate. In a statement shared on X, the Supreme Court said that “the legal system that criminalised abortion” in Mexican federal law “violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to gestate”.

After the ruling, GIRE said in a statement: “No woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be able to be punished for abortion.”

The groundwork for reproductive rights in Mexico started many decades ago, with a determined national campaign for the right to legal, safe and free abortions. The focus was on empowering marginalised communities, as abortion was a health crisis that disproportionately affected young women, as well as people who lived in the country’s most rural areas. As recently as 2020, it was cited as a leading cause of maternal mortality.

The road to yesterday’s decision began last September, with officials ruling that abortion was “not a crime” in a local case against the northern state, Coahuila. Women who served prison time for receiving abortion care were granted release and officially made Coahuila the first state to decriminalise abortion. Over the last two years, Mexican officials have been decriminalising abortion on a state-by-state basis. Isabel Fulda, the deputy director of the advocacy group that brought forward the case in 2021, said “We wouldn’t have this ruling today if we didn’t have the Coahuila one, two years ago”.

While this is a victory for the women’s rights movement in Mexico, right across the border, the US continues to roll back on abortion rights. Particularly in Texas, which shares a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, state lawmakers have brought forth some of the strictest rules on this procedure. The new laws are forcing people to travel out of state to access abortion care. This is the latest victory for reproductive rights activists in Mexico, but as the US 2024 election looms, the fight for worldwide abortion rights isn’t over yet. 

Join Dazed Club and be part of our world! You get exclusive access to events, parties, festivals and our editors, as well as a free subscription to Dazed for a year. Join for £5/month today.