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Mexico's Supreme Court Has Unanimously Struck Down A Law Which Criminalized Abortion

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Supreme Court in Mexico has decriminalized abortion in a unanimous ruling that struck down a state law punishing women who underwent the procedure. This decision has set a legal precedent for abortions nationwide. Joining us now to talk more about the ruling is journalist David Agren in Mexico City.

Welcome.

DAVID AGREN: Good to be with you.

CHANG: Good to have you. All right. Can you just first start us off by telling us the significance of this ruling, I mean, practically speaking, when it comes to access to abortion in Mexico going forward?

AGREN: Sure. Mexico right now has abortion decriminalized in four of the 32 states. What this - what had happened previously is that the Supreme Court basically said - it had a ruling that allowed states to make their individual health decisions. So that meant that - that led to some states having abortion legal and some not. What this does is it sets a precedent. And basically, it - the court spelled out specifically that it - criminal sanctions for abortion are unconstitutional.

This is based on a ruling in the state of Coahuila, which is in the north and borders Texas. And it's basically - what it means from now going forward is that future decisions, if someone wants to seek - it's not like the U.S. where there will be a precedent, and that means everything changes. But the state has to change its law. And basically, if future cases come, this is the precedent that will be applied.

CHANG: OK. Well, Mexico, I mean, it's a largely Catholic country.

AGREN: Yes.

CHANG: How much does this decision fall in step, you think, with how most Mexicans view abortion?

AGREN: There are - surveys tend to vary with it - more - you know, the Catholic Church commissioned a survey recently - they just put it out - that people supporting abortion were a minority. But it's - I guess what I would sort of say is that you sort of see a lot of - what you're seeing in the society is that you're seeing a lot of, especially with Latin America, you're seeing a lot of the protests from feminist groups, especially young women, that the church surveys show that younger people were - tended to be more supportive of abortion rights.

And you see it with countries throughout Latin America where it's - women are in - are going out in the streets. They're protesting. They're demanding action on crimes such as femicides, an end to harassment and also more and more access to abortion. And part of the issue in a country like Mexico is that with criminalization, it tends to be often be applied to poor women. And it's, you know, it's just, you know, you get cases where women who miscarry are, you know, denounced and end up being prosecuted and put in prison.

CHANG: And you mentioned only four states out of 32 in Mexico have decriminalized abortions. Is that correct?

AGREN: That's right. Yeah. Mexico City in 2007 and in Oaxaca, 2019. And then two more this year.

CHANG: OK. David Agren, a journalist in Mexico City, thank you very much for joining us today.

AGREN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.