Mexican Court: Abortion is International Human Right

By | September 8, 2023

NEW YORK, September 8 (C-Fam) The Mexican Supreme Court struck down the country’s federal abortions restrictions on the basis that “women and gestating persons” have an international right to abortion-on-demand.

Citing the non-binding recommendations of international human rights bodies, the court ruled that any criminal restriction on abortion was a violation of the right to health, gender equality, and personal autonomy. The court further ruled that the denial of abortion services and any barrier that restrict or limit access to abortion are forms of “gender-based violence.”

“Even though these very personal rights are not expressly mentioned anywhere in the Mexican Constitution,” the Court concluded that “they are implicit in the Constitution and the international treaties to which Mexico is a party.”

“The right to choose is the most intimate, personal, and one of the most transcendental choices” that a woman or gestating person may face, the court said. This was a matter of preserving their dignity, reproductive justice, and self-determination, it emphasized.

“It is not the role of the government to know or evaluate the reasons to continue or interrupt a pregnancy,” the Supreme Court ruled, citing international human rights bodies. The court explained that abortion should not only be available in cases where a woman’s health is a risk but anytime that “the continuation of a pregnancy is incompatible with her project of life.”

The court said the unborn child could be protected to some degree after 12 weeks of gestation, but that the child in the womb had no human rights to speak of.

“The unborn child cannot be considered a person entitled to human rights, because the exercise of these rights only begins with birth,” the Court said.

At the same time, the court denied that the right to life had any pre-eminence over other rights, saying that “there is no unanimity in the ethical, moral, philosophical, scientific, and legal criteria for which to determine when life begins and deserves to be protected by the state.”

The sentence in the case brought by the pro-abortion law firms Center for Reproductive Rights and Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida, concludes a long string of abortion cases that appeared before the Mexican Supreme Court since 2009.

In 2009, the court initially ruled that abortion was not an international human right and that international bodies had no authority to impose an obligation to allow abortion. The court has now reversed itself completely, ruling that there is an international right to abortion based on the opinions of international human rights bodies and the guidance of the World Health Organization.

The ruling handed this week is modelled on recent court rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It emphasizes that not only women, but also any “gestating person”, that is transgender individuals, have a right to abortion. This approach has already been adopted by Argentina’s legislature and Colombia’s Supreme Court.

According to this new generation of abortion laws, the right to abortion also includes that abortion be free and accessible, provided confidentially, and that health care providers be required to provide abortions even against their conscience.

In addition to abortion, the Mexican Supreme Court also ruled that the Mexican government must provide comprehensive sexuality education, family planning, and contraception.

The ruling is not self-executing and must now be implemented by the Mexican Congress.