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  • Activists against abortion celebrate the decision in Mexico City

    Activists against abortion celebrate the decision in Mexico City | Photo: EFE/ Jose Méndez

Published 30 July 2020
Opinion

The project proposed to reform three articles of the penal code in Veracruz which currently criminalizes abortion during the firsts 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mexico's First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) rejected a bill to decriminalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the state of Veracruz.

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Several feminists and human rights advocates have largely denounced that the current legal system in Veracruz, which penalizes abortion before the firsts three months of pregnancy, forces hundreds of girls to give birth unwillingly or to die trying to abort in secret.   

The project was presented by minister Juan Luis González Alcántara, the only one who voted in favor out of the other four legislators. It proposed to reform three articles of the penal code in Veracruz, which currently criminalizes abortion during the firsts 12 weeks of pregnancy, does not permit terminations under health condition reasons, and established only 90 days for abortions in cases of rape.

"The annoyance is that this should not be permission granted, but an exercised right. The annoyance is that from here to it is organized again, to see if now yes at the end of the form, the women and the girls are forced to a pair or dying in hiding."

On the other hand, the legislators who opposed the bill argued that the SCJN only could order the Veracruz Congress to legislate, but not on what terms to do so. In this sense, the legislators said that supporting the bill would mean "engaging in judicial activism that would overwhelm its constitutional powers."

The decision is a significant blow for feminists groups across the country, who waited that a favorable ruling could set a precedent for other states to legally protect women's reproductive health as abortion is not a crime only in two states out of 32, Mexico City and Oaxaca.

The case started back in 2016 when the National Commission to Prevent and Eradicate Violence against Women (Conavim), and the National Institute for Women (Inmujeres) sent a report to the Veracruz government to notify violations of women's reproductive rights.

A year later, the state government accepted the report. However, Congress had not to take action on the matter, which forced women's rights advocates groups to make the case to the Supreme Court.

"The local Penal Code is a discriminatory barrier to equal access to health. In principle, because it is a criminal type that only falls on women due to their physical and biological conditions, and the sanction acts as an obstacle to access to safe health services that allow them to achieve physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, appreciated from a gender perspective," explains the project rejected on Wednesday.

According to feminist lawyer Patricia Bedolla during a press conference on the ruling, the are 29 states in Mexico that have a discriminatory legal framework regarding women's reproductive health, and that includes Veracruz.

Since the legislators did not discuss the content of the project itself but the legal framework for it to operate, it was required that another legislator present a project adjusted to the legal technicalities pointed out by the court so they will be able to then, discuss the content.

  

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