Mexico top court declares criminalizing abortion unconstitutional

Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ruled Tuesday that total criminalization of abortion is unconstitutional.

The unanimous decision from a bench of 10 judges invalidated Article 196 of the Penal Code of Coahuila. Article 196 provided that pregnant people who underwent elective pregnancy termination, or people that caused a pregnant person to have an abortion without the pregnant person’s consent, could face up to three years’ imprisonment. The court found that this provision violated pregnant persons’ right to exercise reproductive autonomy.

The court also invalidated Article 199 of the Penal Code of Coahuila, which made abortion a criminal offense and limited the availability of abortion procedures to cases involving rape, insemination or artificial implantation for up to 12 weeks gestation.

The invalidation of Articles 196 and 199 is retroactive. People who have been imprisoned for abortion will be “released immediately.”

Tuesday’s decision is the first time the court has ruled pregnant people can exercise reproductive autonomy without facing criminal sanctions. The decision has been touted as Mexico’s Roe v. Wade, a reference to the landmark US Supreme Court decision that struck down laws that restricted abortion.

Both federal and local courts in Mexico will be bound by Tuesday’s decision, which reaffirms that the court’s “only commitment is with the Constitution and with the human rights that it protects.”

Tuesday’s decision is juxtaposed with the passing of a new law in Texas earlier this month. The new law prohibits abortions of six weeks’ gestation and above. The law will make abortions inaccessible to pregnant people often before they know that they are pregnant. It is the US’ most restrictive anti-abortion law to date.