In a September 7th unanimous decision, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional. The decision specifically repeals the law in Coahuila, a state on the border of Texas, but
. . . it establishes a historic precedent and “obligatory criteria for all of the country’s judges,” compelling them to act the same way in similar cases, said court President Arturo Zaldívar. “From now on you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria and the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid.”
Mexico is the second largest Catholic country in the world, and the ruling was handed down on the eve of a Marian feast, The Nativity of Mary. It also came a week after the Texas Heartbeat Act, which makes abortion illegal once a heartbeat has been discovered. A big difference in the new Texas law and what was overruled in Mexico: in Texas, the unborn baby’s mother cannot be prosecuted, while in Mexico, in some states, women have been convicted of homicide for abortion or suspected abortion and imprisoned. According to news reports, however, no women in Mexico are currently in prison for abortion—activists have helped women get their sentences lessened or kept them out on parole, but over 4,000 cases remain open.
On September 8th, the Catholic bishops in Mexico issued a statement:
“With this sentiment, we deeply regret that, in the face of the apparent dilemma of not criminalizing the woman who aborts and preserving the life of the unborn child, the court has chosen to discard the latter, without seeking to safeguard both,” according to the statement. It was signed by Bishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, president of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico; Bishop Alfonso Gerardo Miranda Guardiola, secretary general of the conference; and Bishop Jesús José Herrara, responsible for the Episcopal Dimension of Life for the conference.
The bishops further wrote that, in the coming days and weeks, those overseeing the Episcopal Dimension of Life will offer technical criteria to help construct new proposals and actions. They concluded by asking the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe to Intercede “in defense of women and the rights of the unborn.”
Sadly, just two days after the first ruling, a second ruling removed protection from the unborn:
The high court, in a September 9 decision, argued that no state government could determine when life begins. Only the federal constitution can determine that, it said.
The court ruling denied any legal rights to the unborn, saying, “For the court, it is inadmissible to establish that the embryo and fetus deserve the same legal protection as born persons.”
“Although the product of pregnancy deserves protection that increases over time as the pregnancy progresses, this protection cannot ignore the rights of women and pregnant people to reproductive freedom and, in particular, their right to interrupt the pregnancy in certain cases,” the court stated in a decision concerning Sinaloa state.
On September 13th, the Mexican bishops announced that a “March for women and for life” will take place in Mexico City on October 3rd.
Marcial Padilla, director of the Mexican pro-life platform ConParticipación, is in charge of coordinating the march. . . . Padilla noted that “September, which should be a month of celebration for Mexicans” because of the celebration of the country’s independence on Sept. 16, “has become a sad and sombre month.” This situation is due to “the ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice, which declared it should be legal to take the life of a child in the womb of his mother at some stage in the pregnancy,” which will terminate the lives of “a great many Mexicans.” Padilla pointed out that “we know that abortion is a complex issue that cannot be solved without addressing it from every angle … If we want to embrace with mercy the woman who gets an abortion, prison is probably not the way to help,” he continued. “On the contrary, what we want to do is to solve the problems that led her to consider it, but in no way do we want to take away the protection under the law from the unborn child. The child must have the same protection under the law as his mother.”