Seven women who had been imprisoned in Guanajuato state in Mexico after alleged abortions were freed yesterday. Women’s rights activist Veronica Cruz, who has been working on the women’s behalf, told the Associated Press that the women were “innocent” and that “they all suffered miscarriages.” The state convicted the women under a state law that addressed “homicide against a close relative” by arguing that they had given birth to live infants and that the infants had died due to mistreatment and neglect.
The women’s sentences were reduced earlier this week to 3 to 8 years after the state passed a law that still considers abortion “infanticide,” but that also found the women’s sentences to be “inappropriate, given that they were excessively punitive and ranged from 25 to 35 years,” reported the Associated Press. The women were released on account of time already served.
According to Agence France Presse, abortion is punishable by a prison sentence in half of Mexico’s 32 states. Currently in Mexico, abortion is legal only in Mexico City. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled 8 to 3 in 2008 Mexico City’s law allowing abortion in the first trimester is constitutional. Outside of Mexico City, abortions are allowed only in cases of rape, if a woman’s life is in danger, or if there are severe fetal abnormalities. Under the Mexico City law, all public hospitals are required to give patients free abortions, but individual doctors can refuse to carry out the procedure.