Mexico’s Supreme Court rejects introducing abortion on-demand up to 12-weeks

Mexico’s Supreme Court has voted 4-1 to reject an injunction to allow abortion on-demand up to 12-weeks in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

Last year, a judge in the Mexican State of Veracruz approved an injunction ordering the state’s Congress to remove articles 149, 150, and 154 from the state’s penal codes.

The ruling came in response to a wide-ranging Federal Government report on women’s rights, published in 2016, which called for the introduction of abortion legislation across the whole of Mexico.

Removing these articles would have introduced abortion on-demand up to 12 weeks within the Mexican State of Veracruz. 

In addition, abortion activists believed the upholding of this injunction in the Supreme Court would have allowed them to use similar tactics to legalise abortion in more Mexican states.  

Before the injunction was rejected, Rebeca Ramos, director of pro-abortion group Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) – who have received funding from International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in the past – stated that if the court upheld the injuction it “could allow us to petition for injunctions or other measures in the rest of the states which have restrictive regulations on abortion.”

But on wednesday afternoon, four out of five justices on the Supreme Court voted to reject the injunction, with one judge saying that to uphold the law would “greatly overstep the constitutional powers of this Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation,” as the state had already put into place laws on abortion. 

Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision, over 200,000 people had signed a petition asking the Supreme Court to defend the right to life.

The current law in Veracruz includes provisions allowing abortion to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape under 90 days gestation. 

In 2016 the Veracruz legislature also voted 34-9 to amend the state’s constitution to include the protection of life from conception to natural death. 

Mexican states uphold the right to life

The Supreme Court’s decision comes after an attempt to allow abortion on demand, for any reason, up to the 12 weeks was rejected in the Mexican state of Guanajuato in May.

The United Commission of Justice and Public Health voted by six votes to three to dismiss the proposed legislation, put forward by the Morena and the Revolution Democratic Party (PRD).

In addition, in May the Mexican state legislature of Nuevo Leon passed an education reform bill to foster a “respect for life from conception to natural death.”

The law reflects the state’s constitution, which affirms that “the state recognizes, protects and defends the right to life that every human being has. From the moment of conception that life comes under the protection of the Law and is considered as having been born with regards to all corresponding legal effects until its natural death.”

The new bill also includes provisions to help prevent disability-selective abortions as it calls for the “inclusion, through the development of special training, programs for the employment of people with some kind of disability.”

Abortion across Mexico

The state of Mexico City currently has the most liberal abortion law in Mexico, allowing abortion on demand up to 12-weeks. This law, enacted in 2007, was later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008 and resulted in abortion laws being reverted back to state legislatures.

In response, 18 states passed laws and constitutional amendments to protect life from conception until natural death. As of 2020, abortion is legal in two Mexican states – Mexico City and Oaxaca – out of 32 states.

Mexican state rejects abortion on demand proposals, while another adopts pro-life legislation

An attempt to allow abortion on demand for any reason up to the 12 weeks has been rejected in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

In a virtual session held yesterday, the United Commission of Justice and Public Health voted by 6 votes to 3  to dismiss the proposed legislation put forward by the Morena and the Revolution Democratic Party (PRD).

Of the 10 members of the Commission, two PRD representatives and one Green Party legislator voted in favour of the proposals. All six votes to dismiss any change in law came from the National Action Party (PAN). The tenth representative, Javier Hernández was not present.

Explaining why she voted against the proposals, PAN representative Laura Cristina Márquez Alcalá said, “It is a matter of defending the human rights of women and the human rights of an unborn person.”

Pictures of vandalism by pro-abortion activists have emerged since the proposals were dismissed.

Pro-life campaigners have further cause to celebrate in Mexico, as this news comes after the Mexican state legislature of Nuevo Leon passed an education reform bill to foster a “respect for life from conception to natural death” in students just last week.

The law reflects the state’s constitution, which affirms that “the state recognizes, protects and defends the right to life that every human being has. From the moment of conception that life comes under the protection of the Law and is considered as having been born with regards to all corresponding legal effects until its natural death.”

The new bill also includes provisions to help prevent disability-selective abortions as it calls for the “inclusion, through the development of special training, programs for the employment of people with some kind of disability.”

The director of the pro-life group ConParticipación, Marcial Padilla, said: “The initiative to recognize the right to life in education will help young people, adolescents and children learn to appreciate human life.”

The pro-life leader said he is hopeful the reform bill will “help reduce suicide rates, reduce addictions and will also help young people understand that abortion is not an option. ”

Above all, students “will be able to know that abortion is always an attack on human life,” he added.

Brazil’s highest court rejects attempt to legalise disability abortion

Brazil’s highest court has rejected an attempt to legalise abortions on unborn babies who may have disabilities.

Currently, unborn babies in Brazil are protected from abortion in most circumstances. Previous supreme court ruling have declared that abortion is “non-punishable crime” in cases of rape, where there’s a proven risk to life of the mother and, as of 2012, babies diagnosed with anencephaly.

A legal challenge, brought by the National Association of Public Defenders, had sought to introduce terminations for expectant mothers diagnosed with the Zika virus through the court.

However, a majority of judges at Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal voted last month to reject the challenge.

In 2016, the outbreak of the Zika virus raised concerns across the world because of a potential link to a condition in newborn babies.

At the time, Brazil and several other countries across South America reported an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition which results in a baby’s head being smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age.

The National Association of Public Defenders (ANADEP) saw an opportunity to permit abortions for women who had been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

According to Catholic News Agency, pro-life campaigners in Brazil expressed concerns that the group were hoping to chip away at the country’s long-established legal protections for unborn children.

Additionally, Raphael Câmara, an obstetrician at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, noted that “recent studies show that foetuses of infected mothers are affected only 5 to 14% of the time, with the majority having mild problems, as shown by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

He also revealed that “a study recently released by the CDC showed that 73% of Brazilian labs have a low accuracy rate for diagnosing the Zika virus, so the request is meaningless because we cannot talk about someone ‘infected with Zika’, but rather ‘maybe infected by Zika.’”

Ahead of the Supreme Court ruling, pro-life groups in Brazil had spoken out against efforts to expand abortion in the country.

A CitizenGo petition against the legal challenge gathered over 184,000 supporters.

A poll conducted by the Datafolha Institute, in 2016, found 58% of Brazilians would not allow abortion in cases where pregnant women are infected with the Zika virus.

Brazilians also rejected abortions in cases where the unborn baby is diagnosed with microcephaly, with 51 percent opposed and 39 percent in favour, according to the poll.

Attempt to introduce abortion-on-demand to Colombia fails

Colombia’s top court has this week ruled against introducing abortion on demand to the country.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court was considering changes to the country’s law following a legal challenge brought before the court last year hoping to ban all abortions on the grounds that all abortions carry health risks “for both the woman and her unborn child”.

However, the case prompted one of the nine magistrates examining the case to issue a formal proposal that the court also considers legalising all abortions in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Magistrates found no reason to reconsider a 2006 ruling made by the court, which permits abortion in the country in cases of rape or incest, fatal foetal abnormalities or if there is a danger to the physical or mental health of the mother.

“The plaintiff hasn’t submitted sufficient arguments to call into question a constitutional judgment,” they said in a statement read aloud in the court.

According to Al Jazeera, the decision was in line with public opinion in the country with polls indicating that almost 70% of Colombians were against the legalisation of abortion during the first four months of pregnancy.

Hundreds of pro-life campaigners gathered outside the court on Monday to celebrate the ruling.

One woman, who aborted her baby when she was 19 and now volunteers with a pro-life group, told Crux: “Abortion is a tragic experience. And it’s something that we don’t want any woman to go through. What we need is support, to get education, to get jobs so that we can sustain our children.”

After the ruling, President Iván Duque praised magistrates for making “an important decision.”

“I’ve always said I’m pro-life,” he said. “I think that life starts at conception.”

Abortion activists had hoped the court would rule in their favour after Judge Alejandro Linares Cantillo took up their case. They claim legislators have neglected the issue despite the introduction of 33 parliamentary bills on abortion regulation in Colombia’s Congress over the past four decades.

They are hopeful that a bill to legalise abortion in Argentina, announced this week, will pressure Colombia and other countries in Latin America to do the same. In 2018, a bill to legalise abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was narrowly approved by Congress, but was later rejected by the country’s Senate.