Oaxaca becomes the first state in the predominantly Roman Catholic country to decriminalize abortion.
Lawmakers in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca approved Wednesday the legalization of abortion with 24 votes in favor, 10 against. The bill will change the state’s constitution and drop criminal charges for those who decide to terminate their pregnancy during the first 12 weeks after conception.
Oaxaca is now only the second area in Mexico, after Mexico City in 2007, to allow the procedure under such conditions.
Currently, a woman who undergoes an abortion can be jailed between six and 24 months.
The state’s Congress is dominated by the progressive National Regeneration Movement of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who has avoided taking a clear stand on abortion.
Approval of the measure came just a few days after Lopez Obrador sent a bill to the federal Congress that would grant an amnesty to women serving prison terms for abortion.
The decision is likely to restore optimism and hope for human rights and gender activists across the country where abortion is illegal in all states except under limited circumstances such as rape.
Today #Oaxaca is making history: The State Congress decided by a majority vote to approve the decriminalization of abortion before 12 weeks of gestation. Oaxaca is only the 2nd state in all of #Mexico to do so, following #CDMX 12 years ago#AbortoLegalOaxaca #AbortoLegalYa pic.twitter.com/BZmdMnSCgA— Human Rights Oaxaca (@OaxacanewsENG) September 25, 2019
More widely, within Latin America, only Cuba and Uruguay allow women to decide on the termination of pregnancy.
On Sept. 19, Ecuador's National Assembly rejected a legal reform that would have allowed abortions in the case of rape. The national decision immediately prompted citizen rejection after the measure was only narrowly voted down.
The topic has been ignited over the past decade in Latin America's political arena, particularly as Argentina has been on the forefront of demanding that the state allow free, safe and legal abortions for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, the nation's senate rejected a bill that would have legalized the measure in August after the lower house had already approved it.