Mexico’s Oaxaca State Decriminalizes Abortion


Photo Credits:Intercontinental Cry

Abortion in Mexico is certainly a controversial issue. Its legal status varies by state but mostly it is still a very conservative region when it comes to the legality of abortion. The Mexican state of Oaxaca decriminalized abortion and became the second jurisdiction in the country to allow terminations for women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant.

The vote made Oaxaca just the second jurisdiction in Mexico to decriminalize abortion, following Mexico City, which scrapped its prohibitions on abortion in 2007 – a measure upheld by the supreme court a year later. The other 31 Mexican states only permit abortions in cases of rape.

The Guardian reports that lawmakers voted 24-10 on Wednesday to scrap restrictions on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, despite vocal opposition from the Catholic Church. Opponents — including priests and the religious — screamed “killers!” at the lawmakers as the vote occurred, while women in the green handkerchiefs of the pro-choice movement chanted, “Yes we can!”

“We have made history for the dignity, rights and life of the women of Oaxaca,” said Magaly López a local representative of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party. The human rights group Fundar Mexico hailed a “historic day for women” and called for “legal, safe and free abortions.”

"In Oaxaca, each year more than 9,000 women undergo an abortion. According to the latest data, 17 percent are indigenous women under 20," Natalia Torres, legal representative of the women's group March 8, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

About 20 women have been imprisoned in Oaxaca for illegal abortions since 2016, according to the newspaper El Pais.

The anti-abortion movement in Mexico has been led by the Catholic Church. The Church remains influential in Mexico and in any discussion of abortion, the government must discuss the reactions and policies of the Church. It is also the Church's influence that has guided the debate towards a health rationale rather than a choice rationale – staying away from a pro-choice stance.

The president did not mention abortion during his regular morning press conference on Thursday. But the federal government sent out a tweet congratulating the Oaxaca lawmakers.

“Our democracy is strengthened with the extension of rights and the recognition of the autonomy of women to make decisions over their own bodies,” the tweet read.

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