Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court fails to strike down state anti-abortion laws
The Supreme Court’s multi-day public debate focused on three issues: when does legally protectable life begin – at conception or some subsequent point; is each of Mexico’s 32 states free to make that determination itself; and does Mexico’s federal constitution, either literally or by implication, protect human life from the moment of conception. There was a wide range of opinion on each point, and the 11 justices vigorously disagreed. Interestingly, these issues mirror almost exactly the ones focused upon by the United States Supreme Court when it legalized abortion in the 1973 case of Roe vs. Wade.
Four ministers said that each state of the Mexican Republic may decide for itself when human life begins – at conception or some point thereafter – and may forbid or regulate abortion accordingly. One minister expressed his belief that Mexico’s federal constitution defines life as beginning at the moment of conception. He added that even if it doesn’t clearly so specify, international legal principles which Mexico honors in its judicial decisions stress that a human being is conferred with fundamental rights from the moment of conception. Under either analysis, he said, abortion may be prohibited.
A minister who voted to declare unconstitutional all anti-abortion laws in Mexico said, "To turn a woman into a criminal, especially a poor woman, is not the answer. Condemning a woman to jail, forcing her to seek out [a back room abortion], placing her health at risk, to me seems profoundly unjust, profoundly immoral and profoundly unconstitutional." The same minister said that the states could not define for themselves when human life begins, since that is a matter for federal determination. The court's president argued that it is not possible to make a legal decision on the essentially medical question of when life begins.
Although anti-abortion legislation managed to survive in the 16 Mexican states which expressly prohibit it, abortion remains legal in Mexico’s Federal District.
Apr. 29, 2013 - Mexican Supreme Court ruling expands abortion rights
Apr. 9, 2013 - Criminal charges for abortion soar in Mexico; poor indigenous women often defendants
Aug. 6, 2012 - Abortion prosecutions on the rise in many Mexican states
Dec. 5 - Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage
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