Hope in a time of choler: Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion at the federal level

In the same week that Mexico’s two major political parties nominated women to run for President, nearly assuring that Mexico’s next President will be a woman, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that abortion as a federal crime violates Mexico’s Constitution: “The legal system that penalises abortion in the Federal Criminal Code is unconstitutional since it violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to carry a fetus”. This decision builds on a 2021 decision that decriminalized abortion in the state of Coahuila, a state that ironically or tragically or both shares a border with the United States, specifically with Texas. As the Washington Post succinctly put it, “Mexican court expands access to abortion, even as U.S. restricts it.”

The Supreme Court case came as a result of a suit last year, filed by el Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida, GIRE, the Information Group for Reproductive Choice, challenging a 1931 Federal regulation. Since the 2021 decision, 12 Mexican states decriminalized abortion. This week’s ruling means that all Federal hospitals and clinics, irrespective of local laws and restrictions, must provide abortions. Women and people with the ability to carry a fetus can seek abortions without fearing prosecution. Health providers can respond to women and people with the ability to carry a fetus without fearing prosecution. The decriminalization of abortion means the end of a police state of ever impending terror and incarceration.

As both GIRE and the Supreme Court Justices freely admit, while this was a judicial decision, it emerged from years of organizing, from the Green Wave that has swept across Mexico and across the Americas, surging in Argentina, Colombia, and beyond. As Arturo Zaldivar, the former president of the Supreme Court, wrote: “The Green Wave continues to advance. All rights for all women and pregnant people!” A Green Wave continues to surge across Latin America, inspiring, invigorating, and instructing.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit: GIRE)

Hope in a time of choler: In Argentina, emergency contraception is available without a prescription

On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Argentina’s Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, issued Resolution 1062/2023, concerning access to emergency contraception. As of Wednesday, the so-called morning after pill became available over the counter, without a prescription. This major step forward resulted from decades of intense organizing by women’s groups, feminists, and allies. While much of the United States threatens the rights, autonomy, well-being, and safety of women and girls, Argentina leads the world in a better, safer, and more just direction.

After some preliminary considerations, the Resolution states, “That the right to access contraception in all its forms is part of sexual and reproductive rights, recognized as basic human rights enshrined in human rights treaties that have constitutional status. Likewise, the State has committed itself to the reduction of unintended pregnancies, in successive platforms since the signing of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (CIPD, 1994) in which it was recognized that empowerment, full equality and empowerment of women were essential for social and economic progress. To this end, it has committed to promoting the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, which explicitly recognizes the key role of sexual and reproductive health and gender equality and establishes goals linked to the capacity of women, adolescents and all people with the ability to gestate to make informed decisions about sexual relations, timely access to the use of contraceptives and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.”

The Resolution concludes, “Every person of childbearing age must have timely access and without regulatory restrictions to emergency hormonal contraception (AHE), knowing that this is the last chance for contraception after sexual intercourse and thereby reducing maternal mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe abortions.”

Every person of childbearing age. Not only those who can afford to travel somewhere else. Not only those who are connected to various networks, of class or ethne/race or other affiliation. Every person of childbearing age. This is part of sexual and reproductive rights, recognized as basic human rights.

In Argentina, women’s and feminist movements have been organizing around just this point since at least the 1970s. In 1973, for example, a flyer created and distributed by la Unión Feminista Argentina, UFA, proclaimed: ““El embarazo no deseado es un modo de esclavitud / Basta de abortos clandestinos / Por la legalidad del aborto / Feminismo en marcha”. “”Unwanted pregnancy is a form of slavery / Enough of clandestine abortions / For the legality of abortion / Feminism on the march”. Fifty years later, almost to the day, that march is still ongoing, intensifying, expanding, succeeding.

In 2018, the lower legislative house, la Cámara de los Diputados, after long and intensive debate, voted to decriminalize abortion. The Senate rejected the bill. Undeterred, women’s groups, feminist movements and allies persisted. In the waning days of 2020, both houses of the legislature legalized abortion, which was signed into law January 14, 2021. Two years later, the organizing continues. The struggle for sexual and reproductive rights, understood and enforced as integral to human and civil rights, continues.

(By Dan Moshenberg)

(Photo Credit: Nursing Clio)

Criminalization in Texas and Celebrations in Mexico

“Today is a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar. “It is a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.” On Tuesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that making abortion a crime was unconstitutional, establishing a precedent for legalizing abortion nationwide in a conservative Catholic country of approximately 120 million people.

The unanimous ruling from the nation’s top court follows a growing women’s movement in Mexico that has taken to the streets of major cities across the country, demanding greater rights and protections for women against femicide and violence against women.

This landmark ruling comes on the heels of a measure that Governor Greg Abbott signed into law to prohibit abortions as early as six weeks in Texas. Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8) or the “Heartbeat bill” includes cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. There is an exception for medical emergencies. Additionally, the S.B. 8 opens the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others—making this bill the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S.

The passage of S.B. 8 comes after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Sequentially, it could lead to new limits on abortion rights. It is the first major abortion case heard before the court’s newly expanded conservative majority.

These two milestones in abortion rights have demonstrated two sharp contradictions in prioritizing women’s rights globally. It is blatantly obvious women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. are and will always be under the threat of attack. In addition to S.B. 8, the Texas Legislature has also enacted a lengthy list of conservative priorities on transgender rights, voting, and teaching about racism in schools—contradictory to the notion of the U.S. as a global leader in creating and promoting human rights.

The future of the Roe v. Wade remains uncertain. One thing is certain, countries around the globe are shifting to a new global standard for women’s rights and protections. But, more importantly, countries like Argentina and Mexico are global leaders in creating and promoting human rights and women’s rights.

(By Tatiana Ruiz)

(Photo Credit: AFP / La Jornada)

#NiUnaMenos: In Argentina women made history by insisting women’s autonomy must matter

In Argentina today, the lower legislative house, la Cámara de los Diputados, after long and intensive debate, voted to decriminalize abortion. The vote was 129 in favor, 125 opposed. The bill now goes on to the Senate, which is not expected to pass, but these days … who knows? Across Latin America and the Caribbean, where 97 percent of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, today’s legislative step by the Argentine lower house is viewed as a clear breakthrough, a historic moment. Around the world, women and their supporters are watching and hailing the event as historic as well. Today’s vote is historic because of what it portends for women’s access to real reproductive health services, rights and power. Today’s vote is equally historic because it indicates that women are making historic, step by step, year by year. Today’s Argentine vote occurred at all because of the work of Ni Una Menos and their supporters, who began breaking rules and making history when they refused to accept femicide and other forms of violence against women as an “unfortunate but inevitable” aspect of Argentina machismo. They said, No more! They yelled, Ni una menos! And they have caused the ground to tremble and the walls to shake. Ni una menos! #NiUnaMenos!

Two years ago, in October, under the banner of Ni Una Menos, women declared a general strike against all violence against women. Women had already been organizing against violence against women for two years. Argentine women had been organizing as well for thirty years, in various encuentros and other structures. They decided, Enough is enough! They organized the first national women’s strike in Argentine history, and they shut the nation down. At the time Ni Una Menos argued, “Behind the rise and viciousness of the femicidal violence lies an economic plot. The lack of women’s autonomy leaves us more unprotected when we say no and so leaves us as easy targets for trafficking networks or as `cheap’ bodies for both the drug and the retail markets … While the average unemployment in Argentina is 9.3 percent, for women it is 10.5.” At the center of the web of intersections lay women’s autonomy.

Two years later, Ni Una Menos women, and their supporters, brought that argument to halls of Argentina’s congress. They filled the streets. They told story after story after story of those who had had to endure the pain and danger of illegal abortions. Students led, occupying schools, filling the streets. Workers joined in. From the mass demonstrations two years to today’s vote, the women of Argentina, as an organized self-identified autonomous political movement, have mobilized in every way, day by day by day. They have taken the stories and turned them into educative moments. They have taken the educative moments and turned them into votes. They have taken the swords and plowshares and turned them into women’s power. At the center of all this is the simple and complex understanding that women’s autonomy lies at the center of everything … or there is nothing.

When today’s vote was announced, the shouting inside and outside the legislature was described as “louder than when Lionel Messi scores a goal.” Today’s vote was historic and, for some, revolutionary. In Argentina today, women made revolutionary history possible, once again, by insisting and forcing the State to take on that women’s autonomy must matter. Ni una menos! #NiUnaMenos #AbortoLegalYa

(Photo Credit: Pagina12 / Bernardino Avila) (Image Credit: Le Monde)