Using Litigation to Defend Women Prosecuted for Abortion in Mexico: Challenging State Laws and the Implications of Recent Court Judgments
Posted: 3 Mar 2015 Last revised: 5 Mar 2015
Date Written: November 1, 2014
While women in Mexico City can access free, safe and legal abortion during the first trimester, women in other Mexican states face many barriers. To complicate matters, between 2008 and 2009, 16 state constitutions were amended to protect life from conception. While these reforms do not annul existing legal abortion indications, they have created additional obstacles for women. Health providers increasingly report women who seek life-saving care for complications such as haemorrhage to the police, and some cases eventually end up in court. The Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) has successfully litigated such cases in state courts, with positive outcomes. However, state courts have mainly focused on procedural issues. The Mexican Supreme Court ruling supporting Mexico City’s law has had a positive effect, but a stronger stance is needed. This paper discusses the constitutional framework and jurisprudence regarding abortion in Mexico, and the recent Costa Rica decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. We assert that Mexican states must guarantee women’s access to abortion on the legal grounds established in law. We continue to support litigation at the state level to oblige courts to exonerate women prosecuted for illegal abortion. Advocacy should, of course, also address the legislative and executive branches, while working simultaneously to set legal precedents on abortion.
Keywords: abortion, criminal law, law and policy, jurisprudence, judicial roles, Mexico
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