National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

INTERNATIONAL NEWS | Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Mexico City Law Allowing Abortion in First 12 Weeks of Pregnancy

INTERNATIONAL NEWS | Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Mexico City Law Allowing Abortion in First 12 Weeks of Pregnancy
[Aug. 29, 2008]

Mexico's Supreme Court on Thursday voted 8-3 to uphold a Mexico City law allowing abortion under any condition in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times, 8/29). The law, passed by the assembly in Mexico City in April, includes a provision to exempt physicians who are morally opposed to abortion (Miller Llana, Christian Science Monitor, 8/29).

The court in the decision rejected arguments by abortion-rights opponents that the law violated the Mexican Constitution, which the opponents claimed protects embryos. Justice Genaro Gongora Pimentel said, "Human rights systems cannot require states to defend a right to life from conception," adding, "It would mean imposing ideologies and subjective values that could sacrifice other rights that are fully identifiable" (Los Angeles Times, 8/29).

Justice Sergio Valls added, "To affirm that there is an absolute constitutional protection of life in gestation would lead to the violation of the fundamental rights of women" (Christian Science Monitor, 8/29). Justice Sergio Aguirre Anguiano, who led efforts to invalidate the law, said the country's constitution guarantees the right to life beginning at conception (Los Angeles Times, 8/29).

Both opponents and supporters of the decision have said they believe the ruling will put pressure on other Mexican states to liberalize their abortion policies, the Monitor reports (Christian Science Monitor, 8/29). According to the Times, the ruling was a "defeat" for the conservative federal government of President Felipe Calderon, who opposes the law, and the country's Roman Catholic Church (Los Angeles Times, 8/29). Calderon is expected to continue efforts to reduce access to abortions in the country, the AP/ reports (Rodriguez, AP/, 8/28).

Reaction, Comments

Supporters of abortion rights welcomed the ruling. Maria Consuelo Mejia, director of the group Catholics for the Right To Decide, said the ruling is "historic," adding it will have a "huge impact on women's rights, not only in Mexico but throughout Latin America." She added, "No one has the right to impose a pregnancy on a woman" (Los Angeles Times, 8/29).

The church criticized Thursday's ruling and pledged to scale up antiabortion efforts on behalf of "the millions of children who are being sacrificed" (AP/, 8/28). "No court can contradict the supreme law of God that orders us: thou shalt not kill," Archbishop of Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera said (O'Boyle, Reuters, 8/28). Jorge Serrano, director of the antiabortion group Provida, said the ruling is "a betrayal of the right to life," adding, "This tragedy we are living in Mexico City is going to spread to other states" (AP/, 8/28).