Mexico’s Supreme Court voted Tuesday to remove legislation that punishes women for having abortions.
The 11 justices voted to revoke the criminalization law in the state of Coahuila, where women were incarcerated for up to three years for having abortions with no exceptions for cases of rape. Although the bill has been issued, abortion is not yet legalized. For now, women can call state authorities to request their charges are dropped.
The ruling was condemned by Mexico’s vast majority of Catholic leaders and conservatives.
The decriminalization bill follows the Texas law that went into effect Sept. 1 (SB8) that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. While both Mexico and Texas present contrasting rulings, Latinos are split on whether abortions should be legalized or banned. According to the Pew Research Center, 58% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 40% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
“I was extremely shocked when I heard about the news,” said Giselle Gonzalez, an abortion rights advocate in Chicago. “As you may know, Mexico is a very heavily Catholic country where a lot of the culture is influenced by religion. I really thought that we would never see the day where we will see abortion fully decriminalized. It’s a historical accomplishment, and we are now able to witness that.”
Jaquelin Rodriguez, an anti-abortion advocate and Christian who attends Metropraise International Church, said she believes advocates in Mexico should not consider abortions, even in cases of sexual abuse. Rodriguez emphasized that women should seek help from organizations to continue their motherhood journey.
“I was abused for about three years,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t know that anybody could help you with situations like [rape or abuse]. I understand [women protesters in Mexico], but that’s not the way to fight [for your rights] by destroying [Mexico City] and then thinking, ‘OK, if you are not going to agree with me then at least I am going to abort my baby.’”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared the Texas anti-abortion law “unsafe” and urged Congress to draft safer abortion laws in Illinois.
“Governor J.B Pritzker said that banning abortion is not safe, and It’s true because women have never stopped having abortions,” Gonzalez said. “Having abortion legalized provides women with the opportunity of having safe abortions. And when we criminalize abortion, we put women at risk.”
In 2019, the Illinois General Assembly introduced the Illinois Reproductive Health Care Act, allowing women to refuse or choose to have an abortion and whether to receive birth control.
“We passed the Reproductive Health Act two years ago. That historic legislation will make sure Illinois women are going to be protected. It’s unfortunate what we’re seeing in Texas,” State Sen. Karina Villa said. “Decriminalizing abortion in Mexico, where the church is heavily involved in creating anti-abortion laws is a huge victory. I believe women are desperate to get an abortion. A baby can grow inside a stomach because a woman, in this case, is raped. Why should a woman find herself in a situation where she believes that having an abortion is not the best decision?”
Even with laws like the Reproductive Health Act, Gonzalez and Villa believe there is still long way to go to provide accessible reproductive health care to migrant women, who are seeking safe ways to receive abortions.
“Some of the women who migrated to this country and had an abortion experienced obstacles where they had a lack of insurance and financial resources,” Gonzalez said. “Luckily, now, there are centers like Planned Parenthood.”
“With legislation such as the Reproductive Health Act, as well as expanding Medicaid to undocumented folks — many of them have lived their whole lives working in the United States and they don’t have access to reproductive health care,” Villa said.