Mexico's Supreme Court votes to decriminalize abortion

Mexico's Supreme Court votes to decriminalize abortion
© Greg Nash/Madeline Monroe illustration

Mexico's Supreme Court voted unanimously Tuesday to decriminalize abortion, The Washington Post reported.

The court ruled on a law in the state of Coahuila that stipulates jail sentences of up to three years for women who obtain abortions illegally, according to the Post. 

Eight of the 11 judges on the court had expressed support for the measure during arguments on Monday, making it seem almost certain the decision would be enacted, the Post noted. 

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"This will not only have an impact in Mexico; it will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region,” Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for Mexican feminist organization GIRE, told the Post. 

The court's decision won't make abortion widely accessible immediately, but the ruling will give states a pathway to change their laws, a former Mexican Supreme Court judge told the Post. It will also instantly free women who are currently in jail for getting an abortion.

Mexico's conservative National Action Party voiced its opposition to decriminalizing abortion in a statement as the country's high court was considering the case.

"We are in favor of defending life from the moment of conception until natural death," the statement read.

The ruling is also notable given that Mexico has the world's second-largest Catholic population, just behind Brazil, the Post noted.

The court's ruling follows a contrasting decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week to decline to block a controversial bill in Texas banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy.