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A lawless abortion law in Mexico

The Mexican state of Veracruz legalizes abortion despite a pro-life constitutional amendment

Pro-life activists outside the Supreme Court in Mexico City after its July 2020 ruling on abortion in Veracruz Associated Press/Photo by Fernando Llano (file)

A lawless abortion law in Mexico

In what pro-lifers are calling a violation of the state’s constitution, Veracruz on Tuesday became the fourth Mexican federal entity to legalize abortion, following the capital city and two other states. The new law allows parents to abort their unborn children until the 12th week of pregnancy. The vote came mere weeks after the state of Hidalgo passed a similar law on June 30. This disappointment for the country’s pro-lifers follows an encouraging ruling from the Mexico Supreme Court last July that blocked a lower court’s attempt to forcibly remove portions of the Veracruz penal code that effectively criminalize abortion. But then Veracruz lawmakers changed the penal code without judiciary pressure.

Rodrigo Ivan Cortes, president of the Mexican pro-life group National Front for the Family, said the way lawmakers legalized abortion was a clear contradiction of that state’s constitution. After Mexico City legalized abortion in 2007, Veracruz and several other Mexican states passed constitutional amendments declaring that life begins at conception in hopes of preventing future expansion of the practice. But Veracruz lawmakers ignored that provision in revising the state’s penal code.

“They don’t have the numbers to change the local constitution that, in the fourth article, protects life from its very beginning inside the womb,” said Cortes, noting that amending the constitution would have required a two-thirds majority, while changing the penal code takes a simple majority. “They didn’t change the constitution because they didn’t have the votes.”

Due to this contradiction between the constitution and penal code, Cortes has called the pro-abortion “reforms” both illegal and invalid.

Something similar happened when Oaxaca legalized abortion. The state had a longstanding pro-life constitutional amendment similar to the one in Veracruz. According to a translation at LifeSiteNews, the 2009 amendment states, “Every human being from the moment of fertilization enters under the protection of the law and is considered the same as one who has been born for all legal effects until his natural death.” This protection of the unborn, it adds, is a part of Oaxaca’s attempt to “strengthen the family.” But the amendment didn’t prevent Oaxaca from legalizing abortion 10 years later, in 2019.

On its website, the international feminist group RESURJ applauded Oaxaca’s move to legalize the practice, saying that doing so despite the “protection of life from conception” clause shows the amendment “is not incompatible with the right of women to decide whether they want to continue their pregnancies or not.”

Cortes would say otherwise: “It is nonsense. It is absurd. But they did it.”

Leah Savas

Leah reports on pro-life topics for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Hillsdale College graduate. Leah resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband, Stephen.



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