Abortion access still difficult after historic Mexico ruling

Six months after Mexico’s Supreme Court dominated that criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional, a hospital within the southern state of Guerrero refused to carry out an abortion on a 9-year-old rape sufferer.

The case is a latest instance of what abortion advocates warned of after the excessive court docket’s ruling final yr: till every state reforms its penal code there’ll proceed being obstacles to protected and authorized abortions in a lot of the nation.

It was solely after the Guerrero lady’s case drew media consideration and lawmakers and activists intervened that Guerrero’s well being secretary cleared the way in which for her abortion final month.

Guerrero is one in all Mexico’s 26 states the place adjustments have nonetheless not been made to state authorized codes following the Supreme Court ruling in September. In January three state lawmakers submitted a proposed invoice to do exactly that.

The lady’s case roiled Guerrero in February. The lady from a distant mountain group was raped by a member of the family, who can be a minor.

Her grandparents and an aunt went to the state prosecutor’s workplace after which to a hospital in Chilpancingo, the state capital. Doctors there refused, noting that she was greater than 12 weeks pregnant and it may danger her well being, an assertion advocates disputed.

The refusal grew to become a polemic within the state.

The Roman Catholic Church, which stays influential in Guerrero, voiced objections to the lady having an abortion.

Rev. Salvador Rangel Mendoza, bishop for the Chilpancingo-Chilapa diocese, stated it shouldn’t have been allowed, as a result of life have to be revered. He stated the state’s well being secretary “committed a murder.”

Rangel Mendoza famous “sociocultural circumstances” that result in sexual abuse inside households. “They go against an innocent creature, and why not against the person who impregnated her? Where is that person? He’s going to continue impregnating girls.”

Authorities opened an investigation, however advocates concerned within the case stated the opposite minor was not in custody.

Guerrero ranks excessive in Mexico for instances of sexual abuse, feminicides and teenage being pregnant. Gender violence alerts have twice been declared within the state, triggering a mechanism to guard girls’s people rights. But in distant mountain communities, there’s little authorities presence.

“There is a lot of resistance in institutions that have the obligation to attend to family and sexual violence against women,” stated Marina Reyna Aguilar, govt director of the Guerrero Association Against Violence towards Women.

Advocates say they’ve documented not less than eight instances of women and girls, together with one with a incapacity, who had been denied abortions within the state in latest months after being raped.

Neil Arias Vitinio, authorized advisor for the nongovernmental Tlachinollan Mountain Human Rights Center, stated the problem is sophisticated in Guerrero as a consequence of institutional apathy, widespread impunity and absence of laws. She stated the lady’s case was an instance of these forces at play.

Authorities solely took discover as a result of the case gained traction within the press, she stated. Most of the time instances by no means obtain widespread consideration and the victims’ rights are trampled as a result of they happen in distant, poor communities the place “nobody listens to them.”

Beatriz Mojica, a state lawmaker who acquired concerned within the lady’s case, stated “it is a serious problem.” She stated decriminalizing abortion within the state codes was pressing as a result of there are rape victims presently jailed, accused of terminating their pregnancies.

One such case was that of a 23-year-old girl from the Arcelia township. She was raped, however has been jailed for six months, accused of homicide after struggling a miscarriage.

“We mustn’t as a society allow that our girls are in this vulnerable situation,” Mojica stated. “We have made and we continue making calls for lawmakers to do what we’re supposed to do, our responsibility is to guarantee the non-criminalization of our girls, teens and women.”

Mojica, along with lawmakers Gloria Citlali Calixto and Nora Velázquez, all of the ruling National Regeneration Movement party, proposed legislation in mid-January that would decriminalize abortion in the state’s penal code up to 12 weeks. That would be in line with similar laws in Mexico City, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Baja California and Colima. The legislation remains in committee.

Velázquez said that shortly after filing the bill, public criticism flowed from politicians and activists opposed to abortion. The sponsors also received threats through social media.

She hoped the attention garnered by the girl’s case would spur the state legislature to reform the penal code this year. “We legislate for those who are suffering in their communities,” Velázquez stated. “We aren’t promoting (abortion), we support legislation for the right to health, to justice, to human development.”

Ricardo Cano, an adviser for the National Front for the Family, which opposes abortion, stated he objects to utilizing the lady’s case to push for increasing entry to abortions. He stated passing such a authorized reform “will leave the girls more vulnerable than ever.”

“To really eradicate the problem, you have to go after the victimizers, go after the rapists,” he stated. “If Guerrero’s laws don’t subject these people to stronger sentences, the problem will still be there.”

Arias Vitinio, the advocate, additionally sees impunity in instances of rape as a serious a part of the issue in Guerrero, the place police resist arresting accused relations even when there’s an arrest order. That institutional resistance additionally raised doubts for her about any authorized reform’s influence. “It could be a dead letter,” she stated, suggesting that it will simply be ignored.

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