17 | NOV | 2019
Mexico, abortion, and forced maternity
Abortion before the 12 week is legal in Mexico City - Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP

Mexico, abortion, and forced maternity

17/03/2019
16:17
Alicia Pereda Martínez
Mexico City
-A +A
There are 19 states that have modified their local constitutions to protect life since conception

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In four years, at least 2,184 investigations have been opened for abortion in Mexico. According to official numbers, there are at least 500 cases each year; in January 2018, there were 49 cases registered.

According to a map released by EL UNIVERSAL, the states where the largest number of investigations launched for illegal abortion are Mexico City, with 451; Baja California, with 237; State of Mexico, with 210; Nuevo León, with 174; Tamaulipas, with 140; Guanajuato, with 108; Veracruz and Jalisco with 100 investigations each; Chiapas, with 69; Hidalgo, with 62; Morelos, with 55, and Oaxaca, with 49.

Anti-abortion laws

To date, with the recent passing of a bill in the state of Nuevo León, there are 19 states that have modified their local constitutions to protect life since conception.

The other states who have criminalized abortion are Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Yucatán. The majority of these bills were approved between 2009 and 2016.

The head of the Gender Violence and Human Rights department of the Catholics for the Right to Choose México, María de la Luz Estrada Mendoza says these laws are a serious step back, “mainly because there are recommendations issued by international mechanisms, which are binding (…) and which have pointed out that these restrictive laws only leave women unprotected.”

Causal without a cause

Nevertheless, for a woman to be accused of abortion, she doesn't have to live in a state where the local constitution protects life since conception.

In the penal codes of the 32 states, intentional abortion is considered as illegal, this is determined based on difference causals, which can prevent women or doctors who perform the abortion to be criminalized, or not.

Until now, abortion is not considered as a crime if the woman is a victim of rape and has an abortion before the 12 weeks. Also, in 29 states, abortion is not criminalized if the abortion is spontaneous, in 23 it's not criminalized if the woman's life is at risk, and in other 16 if there is a genetic alteration.

Meanwhile, 15 states consider it as causal if the pregnancy was the product of unwanted insemination, 14 others if the woman's health is being affected, and other two if the financial situation is an obstacle. Only Mexico City has decriminalized voluntary abortion before the 12th week.

Depending on the states, the penalties for abortion range between two months and five years in jail, there are also fines for up to 216 days of minimum wage and in some states, the penalties include community service or “medical treatments.”

For example, in Tamaulipas, it is established treatment aims to “reaffirm the human values of maternity, helping to strengthen the family.”

María de la Luz Estradawarns that despite what is dictated in the law, in practice things are quite different, as women have to face processes where they are re-victimized. They also have to face prejudice by officials and doctors.

“In Indigenous communities, for example, girls are raped but the doctors who check them don't give them any causal, they are afraid of losing their license,” says the activist.

Also, laws are restrictive and full of prejudices. For example, in Yucatán women are allowed to terminate the pregnancy if the woman doesn't have enough financial resources but only as long as “the pregnant woman already has at least three children.”

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