But the shocks sent across the region by the court’s abortion decision will be felt for years to come.
Mexico’s highest court was asked to consider a law enacted in the northern state of Coahuila that said women who have an abortion could face up to three years in prison and a fine.
In a unanimous vote, the court declared the local law unconstitutional, a decision that does not automatically legalize abortion in the country, according to analysts consulted by CNN. Pending cases still need to be heard locally and laws prohibiting abortion in Mexico’s states are still on the books.
It does, however, set a powerful precedent for the rest of the country, which Supreme Court judges adored when making decisions. Ana Margarita Rios Farjat, one of only three women on the bench, also spoke forcefully against the Coahuila law before casting her vote.
“I am against stigmatizing the decision-makers [to undergo an abortion] Which I think is difficult to start because of the moral and social burden. It should not be made a burden even by law. No one gets pregnant voluntarily thinking of having an abortion later.”
“Never again shall a woman or a person of child-bearing potential be criminally prosecuted,” Justice Luis María Aguilar later concluded, praising the decision as “a historic step.”
The ruling received high praise by women and reproductive rights groups, but was blasted by conservatives and the Mexican Catholic Church. While the court seems to have certainly moved to the left, the country remains polarised. Mexican public opinion on the issue of abortion is still deeply divided.
This reality was reflected in interviews conducted by CNN on the streets of Mexico City the morning after the ruling was issued.
“A woman should not be denied the right to make decisions for herself and she should not be imprisoned for anything she decides about her body,” said a woman walking down the focused Reforma Avenue, who declined to be named.
“I agree that women can do whatever they want with their bodies, but not to the point. We are talking about a human being. Things shouldn’t be that far off [by having an abortion],” said another, who also declined to be named.
a much awaited day
On the day of the verdict, those in favor and against abortion peacefully protested in front of the Mexican Supreme Court building. Some knelt and prayed, or held fetal statues high, while others waved banners demanding safe and legal abortion, which their cause described as “fighting against a patriarchal society”.
But history has been made. María Antonieta Alcalde, director of Ipas/Central America and Mexico, a women’s rights group that also advocates for reproductive rights, says the court’s decision has been based on years of lobbying by organizations like her to make abortion safe and legal. The result of advocacy. in Mexico.
“Even though the decision was expected, the positions of the various judges, how clear their message was and a unanimous decision was something we didn’t expect,” Alcalde said.
She stressed that even though the court’s ruling applies specifically to the state of Coahuila, it sends a message to all states. Under Mexico’s federal system, states can make their own laws, but a decision by the Supreme Court supersedes any local statute.
“Texas is moving in the other direction. What may happen is that more Texan women may decide to travel to Mexico. This is the opposite of what it used to be. Too many Mexican women travel to the US to be safe and legal abortion. What we will see in the future, especially if the new law holds up, is that some Texas women may go to Mexico for safe and legal abortions,” Alcalde said.
Before the ruling, abortion was legal in all states of Mexico only when the pregnancy was the result of rape. Issuing her opinion, Justice Ana Margarita Rios said that – legal or not – between 750,000 and one million abortions are practiced annually in Mexico.
The ruling could mark a turning point for the Latin American region, known as the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think-tank dedicated to the analysis of international affairs in the Western Hemisphere, “one of the most restrictive regions in the world”. When it comes to reproductive health laws and policies, especially abortion.”
According to a February analysis by the organization, abortion is outright banned in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Suriname.