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Mexico moves towards decriminalizing abortion

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WORLD Radio - Mexico moves towards decriminalizing abortion

The Supreme Court in Mexico City encourages the legislature to remove penalties on women who have abortions


The March in Favor of Women and Life in Mexico City on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022 Associated Press/Photo by Fernando Llano

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 12th of September, 2023.

You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

First up on The World and Everything in It: Abortion in Mexico.

While the U.S. legalized abortion in 1973, Mexico continued to protect unborn life for decades. More liberal states in Mexico and Mexico City legalized abortion starting in the early 2000s. But most of the country maintained laws that criminalized abortion.

REICHARD: That started to change in 2021, when the Supreme Court of Mexico overturned a state law that punished with imprisonment women who got abortions.

And then last week, the Supreme Court in Mexico ruled that federal laws criminalizing abortion are unconstitutional.

EICHER: So what are pro-lifers in the majority Catholic nation going to do?

Joining us now to talk about it is Alison Gonzales. She is former director of the Mexico March for Life and is now an organizer for the upcoming March in Favor of Women and Life.

REICHARD: Good morning, Alison.

GONZALES: Hello, Mary. It’s a pleasure.

REICHARD: What did the Mexican Supreme Court decide? Is it similar to the now-overturned Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court?

GONZALES: I would say it's similar in a way, just because they couldn't do it through the Congress. So they are pushing through the Supreme Court. Roe, on the other hand, I think was a landmark decision of the USA Supreme Court, in which the court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protected the right to have an abortion. It's a little bit different in Mexico because we're not talking about legalizing abortion yet. We're just talking about a protection that was granted to women who belong to this Feminist Association who can get get an abortion and not get the penalty of the crime. It is also true that the Supreme Court are asking Congress members to regulate the federal penal code. So it is not unconstitutional. But we are not talking about legalizing abortion yet.

REICHARD: I see. Well, in 2021, the Mexico Supreme Court issued a series of rulings just devastating to unborn babies and their pro-life advocates. How were those rulings different in effect from this most recent development?

GONZALES: In September 2021, the Supreme Court declared the invalidity of the Article 196 of the Coahuila penal code, that's one state of Mexico, in which stablished that prison sentence for a woman who voluntary performed and abortion or anyone who included induced her abortion with her consent, as it violates the right of women to decide. So this is the first time the court decides on this matter, without considering the causes of abortion, by causes of abortion, I mean rape, the health of the mother, the health of the of the baby. This is the first time they are talking about abortion in general terms, even not considering the weeks of pregnancy.

REICHARD: What are your next steps for protecting unborn life in Mexico now?

GONZALES: Well, I strongly believe that the protection of human life starting with the unborn, but continuing with all human lives, in all stages of life, is going to be possible only we build a culture of life, in this sense. The March for Life needs to take place every year, we need to go out as citizens not only to put pressure on authorities, but also as a way to show new generations how to protect life. And the best way to do it is through our testimony. We also need to continue with with the efforts of helping pregnant women in crisis. But this time with a lot more resources now that the laws are not being so helpful. We need to take care of women who are in need. They don't deserve to feel alone, and they should enjoy their pregnancy as much as possible.

REICHARD: You used to lead the March for Life and now you’re working on the March in Favor of Women and Life. What’s the difference and why does it matter at this point?

GONZALES: Yeah, so March for Life focuses its efforts specifically in this situation, where pregnant women are facing crisis, right. And some people push abortion so March for Life raises its voice for in favor of pregnant women. And, of course, the babies inside of the womb. And the March in Favor of Women and Life is a march that started two years ago in 2021. This is the third national March in Favor of Women and Life. And we are working really hard to not be considered as an anti abortion march. We want to raise our voices in favor of women, pregnant and not pregnant women in all stages of life, where we need to raise our voices for our women.

REICHARD: Are there any aspects of this story that you think the mainstream media is overlooking or ignoring?

GONZALES: We see that in the case of abortion in Mexico, they have repeatedly given false information. One of the cases that most comes to mind is the number of women imprisoned for having abortions. According to the media, there are hundreds even thousands of women who have been imprisoned for this matter. In reality, we have consulted the information transparency Institute In 2021, there were 107 people imprisoned. Of those only six were women, 101 were men. How can that be possible? How can a man be in prison for an abortion? Well, they ended up in jail for having forced women to have an abortion because they, of course, they cannot have an abortion. So this is what we're trying to do, that media are saying the wrong numbers are pushing abortion through their narrative. So yes, it is not helpful for the cause for protecting life.

REICHARD: Alison Gonzalez is now an organizer for the upcoming March in Favor of Women and Life. Alison, thanks so much for joining us.

GONZALES: Thank you very much!

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Editors note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalized abortion.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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