On September 25th, 2019, three days after the commemoration of the Day of Struggle for the Decriminalization and Legalization of Abortion, an initiative to reform the Penal Code as well as Article 12 of the Constitution was voted in order to specify that the protection of human life will go “from the moment it is considered a person” instead of from fertilization.
With 24 votes in favor the reform that will ensure the right of women to terminate their pregnancy before the 12th week without being criminalized was approved. The legislators who voted against were deputies of the PRI, of the Green Environmental Party of Mexico (PVEM), of the Social Encounter Party (PES), the only deputy of PAN and two members of MORENA. The reform will take effect next month.
With this Oaxaca became the second Mexican state to decriminalize abortion on demand. The first was Mexico City that passed that law 12 years ago.
In the context of the vote for the reform of the Criminal Code, the feminist civil organization ‘Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity Oaxaca’ reported a case of harassment and vigilance against it. On the same day as the vote, “around 1 pm an unknown man left a backpack in front of the offices. On realizing that he had been seen, he recovered it, staying more than one hour and 30 minutes watching and harassing in front of the office,” it said.
In addition, protests were held by both religious groups against decriminalization and feminist groups in favor from early in the day. One of the main promoters of the reform, Hilda Graciela Perez Luis, deputy of MORENA, said that the decriminalization “[compensates] for the historical debt that democracy has with women”, because “women proclaim the sovereignty of our bodies” and “because abortion already exists.” She pointed out that according to official figures, 2,300 clandestine abortions are performed every year, but the authorities estimate that there is an additional dark figure of 7,000.
That contrasts with the 369 legal abortions that were carried out in Oaxaca for legal reasons such as rape, serious genetic or congenital alterations, recklessness or guilt and danger of death according to official data. Worldwide, 8-11% of maternal deaths are related to unsafe abortion and between January 2018 and August 12th, 2019, 50 maternal deaths were registered in Oaxaca, “[i.e.] abortion is the third leading cause of death in the state of Oaxaca, and the fourth in the whole of the rest of the country,” concluded Perez Luis.
Apart from maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion there are 20 cases in which women who have aborted have been imprisoned for this crime since 2016. Given these facts, Deputy Hilda Graciela Perez Luis said that “criminalization does not persuade them not to abort, the only thing that it achieves is putting health and life at risk.”
For more information in Spanish:
Información sobre pacientes atendidos en servicios de ILE en la Ciudad de México (ILE el 25 de julio de 2019)
Informe: La Pieza Faltante, Justicia Reproductiva (GIRE, 2018)
El aborto es ley en Oaxaca: “la maternidad será elegida o no será” (Proceso el 25 de septiembre de 2019)
Votarán el miércoles en Oaxaca despenalización del aborto (La Jornada el 24 de septiembre de 2019)
Hoy decide el Congreso de Oaxaca si se despenaliza el aborto (Educa Oaxaca el 25 de septiembre de 2019)
Ante votación para despenalizar el aborto, Consorcio denuncia hostigamiento (Educa Oaxaca el 26 de septiembre de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ: