The Mexican High Court ruled last Wednesday that women in Mexico City may obtain abortions to preserve their health or in cases of rape. While a very limited victory, abortion rights supporters were encouraged by the Court’s decision, which would make these exceptions constitutional in all 32 Mexican states. Of the ruling, Pedro Marales, counsel for Mexican pro-choice group Grupo de Informacin en Reproduccin Elegida (GIRE), commented, “It emphasized that, in specific cases, these rights Ð that is, liberty, reproductive autonomy, dignity, women’s health Ð can prevail over the interests of the product of the conception.”
Jesus Zamora Pierce, President of the Mexican Academy of Penal Science, indicated that the ruling may facilitate changes to abortion laws in other Mexican states. It may also increase the availability of abortion services at government-run hospitals, which mainly service the poor. Many poor women are unable to obtain abortions because government-funded hospitals did not offer such services, and these women could not pay for the procedure at private clinics, where many wealthier women obtained abortions.
GIRE estimates that approximately one million Mexican women obtain abortions each year, despite the fact the abortion is illegal in most cases. They also estimate that about 1500 women die from complications related to clandestine abortions.