Religious Groups in Mexico Against Decriminalization of Abortion

Mexico’s Supreme Court decision on abortion has sparked a protracted controversy in the country.

Last September Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled that criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional. The decision was a major victory for advocates for women’s health and human rights.

The Supreme Court decision in the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic nation means that courts can no longer prosecute abortion cases. Mexico is following in the footsteps of Argentina, which began enforcing a similar decision earlier this year.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, religious groups did not remain silent. They held various protests, and one of the largest took place in early October.

A woman holds a placard that says in Spanish "In Favor of Women and Life," during an anti-abortion march in Mexico City, Sunday, October 10.  3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

A woman holds a placard that reads in Spanish “In Favor of Women and Life,” during an anti-abortion march in Mexico City, Sunday, October 10. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ginnette Riquelme)

They are essentially calling on the Mexican people to defend the culture of life or culture of life which the Catholic Church often voices. As is well known Mexico is the largest Roman Catholic country in the world after Brazil, and the Catholic Church is fundamentally opposed to all forms of abortion.

Milagros Avelar, an abortionist, was present at a protest in Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, early last October. He and thousands of other demonstrators marched through Reforma Avenue, one of Mexico City’s main thoroughfares, carrying religious images and praying together.

“We cannot support a law that does not seek the common good. The law exists to promote the common good, not to sacrifice individual interests, in this case there are those who are unborn and powerless. Unfortunately, Mexico is moving in this direction. We I hope the decision is overturned and opens a new path for the good of all,” said Milagros Avelar.

A similar opinion was expressed by a resident named Guadalupe Gutierrez. “I am very much against the decriminalization of abortion. I support life, here we say ‘yes to life’. Everyone has the right to live even before they come out of the womb. From the moment they are in the womb, everyone has the right to live and be respected.”

According to human rights groups, hundreds of Mexican women, generally poor, have been legally sued for having abortions. Several dozen of them are still imprisoned today. A recent Supreme Court decision could change that.

Similar protests have taken place all over the world. In America, the Supreme Court recently allowed a law in the state of Texas that prohibits most abortion practices to remain in effect. The decision was reached in a 5-to-4 vote by a panel of judges, in which the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal by abortion rights groups to block the law.

Women’s March in Washington DC in response to Texas anti-abortion laws.  Washington DC, October 2, 2021.

Women’s March in Washington DC in response to Texas anti-abortion laws. Washington DC, October 2, 2021.

The ruling stated that the petitioners did not meet the requirements needed to stop the law from being enforced, while leaving the opportunity for other appeals.

The Supreme Court’s decision was met with sharp criticism from US President Joe Biden and groups fighting for abortion rights.

In a statement, Biden, who supports abortion rights like the majority of Democrats, said the Texas law “blatantly violates the constitutional rights created” in the historic ruling in the Roev case. Wade in 1973, which states that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first six months, when the fetus is unable to survive outside the womb.

Texas is one of a dozen states, mostly Republican-led, that have imposed a “heartbeat” abortion ban, aka outlawing abortion procedures when a rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart tissue can be detected, often as early as six weeks pregnant, and sometimes when a woman is not aware her pregnancy.

The Texas antiabortion law is unusual in that it gives citizens the legal power to enforce it, by allowing them to sue abortion providers and anyone who “assisted or abetted” an abortion procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. Those who win the lawsuit are entitled to receive at least $10,000. [ab/uh]

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