The decision of the Mexican Supreme Court to decriminalize abortion is a monumental step forward.
The decriminalization of abortion in Mexico was a Supreme Court decision that declared prohibiting the right to abortion as unconstitutional. Abortion in Mexico used to be a federal criminal penalty with up to 3 years in prison. The court ruled on September 6, 2023, that the national laws that prohibited the procedure violated women’s rights and should be removed from the federal penal code. This comes at a time when Latin American countries are widening their perspectives on access to abortion.
Abortion rights in Latin America have been represented by the color green. Many women have taken to the streets with green bandanas and signs to fight for their rights, specifically in Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia. According to NPR, green has become the color of abortion rights at a global scale as a reference to the Argentinian women who would wave white flags during the latter half of the military dictatorship in the late 70s and 80s. Women would wave white flags in reference to the hundreds of children the dictatorship made disappear. After Roe v Wade in the US was repealed, Argentinian women protested outside of the US embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a symbol, green represents hope and life. It has become the color of abortion rights because it is not a fight for the unborn child but for the woman's life.
This decriminalization will now require federal health institutions to offer abortion to those who ask for it. Although these institutions will provide abortion, this does not mean the procedure will be implemented across Mexico immediately.
Unfortunately, the entirety of Mexico has not adapted to this law; 20 states in Mexico still criminalize abortion. NPR suggests that further legal work will be necessary to remove all penalties. This is likely because Mexico is a primarily and highly Catholic country. Many women, especially in conservative areas, can still be denied abortions. Widened access to abortion will take time to be instituted around the country. Still, it is a big step towards gender equality in the Americas, where gender and sex are part of a larger conversation of identity.
Mexico’s decriminalization of abortion shows not only its progressiveness but also its ability to overcome the country's conservative nature. Catholicism is an integral part of Mexico, with almost 78% identifying as Catholic. This does not mean there aren’t progressive Catholics; it just means that many are apprehensive about change that goes against a belief. Although Mexico is considered by many to be a lawless, underdeveloped country, news like this helps to reshape the image of Mexico in the media.
What does the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico mean for the US?
One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a monumental decision that left many Americans concerned for their reproductive health. Since the overturning, many conservatives have doubled down on their pro-life stances, with states like Texas outright banning abortion and reducing the time in which a woman can get an abortion.
Although church and state are meant to be separate, the U.S. government has continuously brought them together to make decisions for the people. In my opinion, the fact that the U.S. has taken a backward step in the battle for bodily autonomy means that its internal conflicts have become too great to ignore.
Gabriella Garcia-Urbay is a junior studying English, Latin American Politics, and Spanish. When she’s not writing, you can find her browsing for new music and discussing the throes of politics.