Abortion, the most complicated issue to address for society in Mexico


The decriminalization of abortion in Mexico is one of the most controversial issues in today's society. On the one hand, there are those who consider that the termination of pregnancy is a public health problem and as such, it should be able to be performed safely and freely. On the other hand, it is appealed that it is an unethical action that goes beyond the morals and integrity of those who decide to practice it.

Where in Mexico is it legal to have an abortion? Image: Pixabay
Where in Mexico is it legal to have an abortion? Image: Pixabay

Despite the ideological difference, the reality is that it is a problem that is part of the daily lives of millions of women around the world. In Mexico, Mexico City and Oaxaca are the only entities where women can legally abort up to 12 weeks of pregnancy regardless of the cause, but in other places, the road to decriminalization is narrower and there are laws at the state level that relate to the termination of pregnancy.

It is important to consider that abortion in Mexico is legal when it occurs under certain circumstances contemplated in the law. These circumstances are known as grounds, and each state in the country determines which of them it accepts. In total, Mexico has 8 causes for which an abortion can be performed without being considered a crime:

When the pregnancy is the result of rape (in all 32 states)

When continuing pregnancy affects a woman's health

When pregnancy puts a woman's life at risk

If the condition of the material is a severe congenital malformation

If the pregnancy is the result of artificial insemination against the woman's will

If the abortion was unsafe, that is, by accident

When a woman's precarious economy is aggravated by continued pregnancy

By free decision of the woman

States where abortion is legal

In April 2007, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District decriminalized induced abortion in Mexico City, allowing many women from other states, including other countries, to come to the country's capital to terminate their pregnancies, safely and legally, without going underground.

In Mexico City's public account for 2017, 4,444 legal abortions were performed that year.

For its part, Oaxaca decriminalized abortion in October 2019. Only last year, the local congress reformed articles 312, 313, 315, and 316 of the state penal code, accepting that woman may perform a legal abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation.

Abortion in other states

There are entities in which a constitutional reform was approved to protect life from the moment of "conception", however, the specific grounds of each state remain in force and allow legal abortion under those circumstances, as is the case of Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Yucatan.

In states such as Michoacán, Tlaxcala, Colima, Baja California Sur, and Yucatán, at least six causes are taken into account that allow for non-penalized abortion, starting with rape, that there is a danger to the life of the woman, that the pregnancy may cause harm to the woman, that there are serious genetic malformations, that the abortion is imprudent, by non-consensual artificial insemination, or for economic reasons, in the case of Michoacán.

As for the number of causes for safe and legal abortion, there are Morelos, Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Guerrero with five.

Next are Puebla, the State of Mexico, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Quintana Roo, Zacatecas and Jalisco, with four; followed by Chiapas, Sinaloa, Sonora, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Aguascalientes, Campeche and Tabasco, which take into account three causes.

In the specific case of Querétaro and Guanajuato, abortion is only criminally justified for two reasons: when the pregnancy was due to rape, or if the termination was due to negligence.

In the first state, Article 138 mentions that "a woman who seeks an abortion or consents to another woman having an abortion" will be given one to three years in prison, although Article 139 speaks of a series of mitigating factors that reduce the penalty.

For its part, in Guanajuato, Article 159 mentions that "a woman who provokes or consents to her abortion shall be imposed from six months to three years in prison and a fine of five to thirty days.

Other states, such as San Luis Potosi and Tabasco, require "proof of the facts" of sexual abuse in order to legally perform an abortion.

The Ministry of Health of Mexico City reported that from 2007 to April 2017, 194,153 women were attended for the legal termination of pregnancy in the different clinical care centers of the Ministry of Health, and 97.66% of the women who were attended are from the Capital and nearby states such as the State of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, Hidalgo, and Querétaro.

At the Latin American level, the only places where the practice of abortion is legal, regardless of the reason why the woman decided to have it, are Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana, French Guyana, and Puerto Rico, according to an article in Animal Político.

Source: Forbes