Abortion in Mexico

The abortion in Mexico , based on induced abortion or abortion , is decriminalized since 2007 at the request of the woman until twelve weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City ; But penalized in 18 of the 31 constitutions of the Mexican states. 1 2 3 4 5

Mexico City: legal abortion up to 12 weeks since 2007

In April 2007 , the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District of Mexico City , where approximately 7.87% of the Mexican population lives, approved the decriminalization of the practice of induced abortion at the request of the woman until twelve weeks of pregnancy. The Assembly, by 46 votes in favor, 19 against and 1 abstention, approved the reform of Article 144 of the Criminal Code of Mexico City 6 2 7

The decision of the Mexican Assembly of 2007 was appealed and finally, on August 29, 2008, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled, by eight votes to three, that the law of Mexico City decriminalizes the abortion carried out during the First 12 weeks of gestation. Referring to Fig.

In 2011, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Hazards (COFEPRIS) authorized the commercialization in Mexico of Zacafemyl-Mifepristone for termination of pregnancy and thirteen related therapeutic indications.

The legislation on abortion in Mexico City , along with that of Cuba , is considered to be the most liberal on abortion in Latin America , 9 being similar to abortion legislation in the United States and more restrictive than abortion legislation in Canada . This legal island in Mexico causes women from other states of the Mexican Republic to move to the Federal District to undergo induced abortion. Some 52,484 voluntary terminations of pregnancy have occurred in Mexico City since its decriminalization in 2007 through 2011. 4 10

Assumptions contemplated in the different states of Mexico

All state criminal codes consider abortion in rape cases legal , and all except the Guanajuato , Guerrero, and Querétaro codes allow this when there is a risk to the woman’s life; Fourteen of the thirty-one extend these cases to include severe fetal deformities; And the state of Yucatan since 1922 includes economic factors when the woman has already given birth to three or more children. 11 However, according to Jo Tuckman of The Guardian , there are in practice few states that facilitate induced abortion in these cases, but they also do not prosecute doctors offering illegal safe abortions or the cheapest clandestine doctors. In some states, such as Guanajuato , the practice of abortion is punishable by prison terms of up to 30 years. 2 3 9

Hardening of sentences in many States

More than half of the state constitutions have been amended, which now define life from conception to natural death by being a person with the right to legal protection. 12 From the 15 of October of 2009 , none of these states has removed its objections to abortion to reflect changes in its constitution, 11 but according to Human Rights Watch and NGO premises, for the past eight years the state of Guanajuato , which has “Has denied every request by a victim of a pregnant rape for abortion services,” and about 130 of its residents have been convicted of seeking or providing illegal abortion. 13 14

In September 2011, attempts were made to arrest the Supreme Court of Justice for constitutional protection of prenatal life in the states of Baja California and San Luis Potosí, but the pro- election lost by closed vote. [ Citation needed ]

Milestones in the history of the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico

The most important milestones in the history of the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico are the following: 15

  • 1936 – 1920 – In 1936 a group of feminists presented the document “Abortion for social and economic causes” which was the first proposal on the complete decriminalization of abortion with first proposals in 1920 in the Federal Penal Code and the Federal District. fifteen
  • 1972 – 1974 – A convention of 100 women explores this possibility. In 1974 women were recognized in their political right and in their right to procreation.
  • 1976 – In 1976 begins the first day so that the women could go to any public institution of health to realize a safe abortion demanding information and delivery of contraceptive methods to all the female population.
  • 1979 – In 1979 a funeral march in memory of all the dead by clandestine abortions takes place . On 10 May of this same year the day of free and voluntary maternity is recognized .
  • 1988 – On May 28, 1988, the World Day against Maternal Mortality is instituted .
  • 1996 – In 1996 in Chiapas , Governor Patrocinio González promotes the legalization of abortion for economic reasons only in cases of family planning when the couple seeks it by mutual agreement or in single mothers who can not economically take care of their child. However, the Catholic Church, the Pro-life organization and the PAN opposed this by achieving the suspension of the reform.
  • 1997 – In 1997, the legalization of abortion was achieved in 21 of the 32 states of the Mexican Republic only in the following cases:
  • When the pregnancy is the product of a violation.
  • When there is danger of death for the mother.
  • Unwanted artificial insemination.
  • Serious damage to the health of the woman.
  • 2007 – On April 24, 2007, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District approves the necessary reforms to the Health Law and to the Penal Code where the interruption of gestation is allowed no longer than twelve weeks. fifteen
  • 2008 – On August 28, 2008, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation determined the constitutionality of the reforms that decriminalize the interruption of pregnancy in the Federal District before the 12th week of pregnancy. This means that in the DF, interrupting a pregnancy to free demand of women is legal under the protection of the Mexican Constitution .

Number of abortions in Mexico

As for the total number of abortions performed within the country, a study conducted in 2008 and funded by CONAPO , El Colegio de México and the Guttmacher Institute 2 estimated that 880,000 abortions were performed annually, with an average of 33 abortions each year for each 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. 16 According to the Guttmacher Institute , and despite legal restrictions, from 1990 to 2006 there was an almost 33% increase in the number of abortions performed throughout Mexico (from 533 000 to 875 000 ), Although the figures on maternal mortality are under discussion since the data are incomplete – public but not private – or partial. 17In a 2013 study by demographer Fatima Juarez, half of all pregnancies in Mexico are unplanned pregnancies , most of which end in abortion, one-third in unplanned births, and about 10 percent in miscarriages . 18

Maternal mortality and unsafe abortion

Main articles: Maternal mortality and Unsafe abortion .

The maternal mortality is defined as death of women during pregnancy , childbirth or 42 days after childbirth , for anything related to or aggravated by pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal period, or its management but not from accidental causes. At the international level, the measure generally used to identify and assess the existence and severity of barriers to access to maternal health services is the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), expressed by the number of women dying during the Pregnancy, childbirth or the puerperium for every 100,000 live births. [ Citation needed ]

Because most of the deaths occurring under the circumstances described above are attributable to preventable causes, mortality is a human rights issue and has thus been recognized by several international mechanisms. In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council reaffirmed that maternal death is a human rights issue and expressed concern about high WMW in the world. It also requested States to renew their commitment to eliminate cases of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity in fulfillment of their human rights obligations.

In 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) decided on the first case of this type presented at an international level, in which it condemned the State of Brazil for the lack of effective measures to prevent the maternal death of A young Afro-Brazilian woman.

On the other hand, the reduction of RMM by 75% between 1990 and 2015 was included as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This inclusion represents the commitment of States to reduce maternal death and improve health services, reiterating their international commitments in the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development – Cairo 1994 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Action of 1995.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 800 women die every day due to causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable and a very large percentage are women in situations of vulnerability: rural, indigenous, Afro-descendant and poor. Direct causes of maternal mortality include eclampsia and preclamsia , haemorrhages , infections , and unsafe abortions . Many of these causes are related to the lack of access to quality health services, which are associated with high health care costs, deficiencies in supplies and equipment, and the lack of trained personnel. There are also structural barriers such as laws, policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination against women in the social, economic and family spheres.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has reiterated the lack of access to adequate maternal health services as a violation of women’s human rights, especially their personal integrity, reproductive health and discrimination. She also pointed out that it is essential for States to comply with their international obligations in this area and that “immediate priority measures” are needed to address maternal mortality. Among the recommendations issued by the IACHR to the member states of the Organization of American States for the fulfillment of their obligations is timely access to effective judicial remedies for women who consider that the State has not observed its obligations in this area. Therefore, coupled with the actions of States to prevent maternal death in the health sector, it is essential that access to justice is promoted both in cases of maternal death and severe and disabling complications.

The main mechanism to ensure proper investigation of these violations and their sanction is to ensure that victims and their families have access to effective remedies and judicial protection. In addition, judicial investigations to determine the attribution of State responsibility are a necessary measure to identify and eradicate discriminatory practices that perpetuate maternal mortality, repair the damage of victims, and promote legislative and public policy measures to ensure that such cases Do not repeat themselves. [ Citation needed ]

Of the 4.4 million abortions performed in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2008, 95% were rated as unsafe. The medical abortion usually based on misoprostol obtained from a variety of sources, is becoming more common throughout the region and increased security of clandestine procedures. The use of this method is particularly common in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico , Peru and the Dominican Republic. Women with no resources or other disadvantages resort to unsafe methods and inadequately trained people or places. According to the World Health Organization , in 2008, 12% of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean (1100 in total) were due to unsafe abortions . About one million women in Latin America and the Caribbean are hospitalized annually to be treated for complications from unsafe abortions. 19 20

Debate on abortion

Main article: Debate on abortion

From a public health perspective , it has been observed that in countries where it is not legal, it encourages methods that are at high risk to the mother’s health, including her death. As a result, countries with induced abortion restrictions have a high incidence of unsafe methods for maternal health, compared to unrestricted countries. twenty-one

The World Health Organization has proposed addressing the problem of unsafe abortion for women by proposing the legalization of abortion , training of medical personnel and ensuring access to reproductive health and family planning services . 22

In the United States , a statistical relationship has been found between the beginning of women’s freedom to abort and the decrease in criminal violence 20 years later. 23 Advocates of the criminalization of abortion argue that the fetus and the embryo constitute a human being with all rights.

Legal termination of pregnancy in Mexico City

In the Federal District, through a decree published in the Official Gazette, the Penal Code is reformed and the Health Law for this entity is added. This establishes that the public health institutions “will attend the requests of interruption of the pregnancy to the women applicants even when they have some other service of public or private health”. This law states that termination of pregnancy is legal if practiced during the first twelve weeks. If the procedure is carried out after this period, it is considered abortion and is punished by the same law. 24 25

At the same time, the health law prevents three cases of exclusion of criminal responsibility for termination of pregnancy:

  • In case the pregnancy is the product of a violation;
  • When the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman;
  • When there is evidence that the product of gestation can present serious physical or mental damages. 25


  1. Back to top↑ Marta lamas, The decriminalization of abortion in Mexico , 2009
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c d Data on abortion induced in Mexico , Guttmacher Institute – Colegio de México , 2008
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b Malkin, Elisabeth (September 22, 2010). «Many States in Mexico Crack Down on Abortion» . The New York Times . Retrieved on February 6, 2011 .
  4. ↑ Jump to:a b Gómez, Natalia (February 6, 2011). “They perform legal abortions without regulation .” El Universal (Mexico, DF) . Retrieved on February 6, 2011 .
  5. Back to top↑ Miller Llana, Sara (August 28, 2008). «Mexico’s Supreme Court upholds abortion law» . Christian Science Monitor (Mexico, D.F. ) . Retrieved on October 17, 2009 .
  6. Back to top↑ Mexico City decriminalizes abortion, Assembly of Representatives authorizes the interruption of pregnancy in the first 12 weeks, 25/04/2007 El País
  7. Back to top↑ Ellingwood, Ken (August 29, 2008). ‘Mexican Supreme Court upholds legalized abortion law’ . Los Angeles Times (Mexico, DF) . Retrieved on October 18, 2009 .
  8. Back to top↑ Mexico: The Supreme Court of Justice of the Union declares constitutional the law on abortion in the Federal District, Human Rights Watch -hrea.org-, 2008/9/1
  9. ↑ Jump to:a b Tuckman, Jo (August 29, 2008). Judges uphold abortion rights in Mexico City . The Guardian . Retrieved on October 17, 2009 .
  10. Back to top↑ From 2007 to 2011, some 50,000 abortions have been practiced in Mexico City. Women from all over the country come to the capital to undergo a surgical abortion under legal sanitary conditions, says El Universal, Mexico City, July 29, 2010.
  11. ↑ Jump to:a b «Abortion in the penal codes of the federative entities 2009» . Reproduction Information Group Elected, AC October 15, 2009. Archived from the original on November 29, 2015 . Retrieved on October 18, 2009 .
  12. Back to top↑ “Abortion in the country is expected to be banned . El Financiero en línea (Mexico, D. F.). October 13, 2009 . Retrieved on October 19, 2009 .
  13. Back to top↑ «Mexico: Stop Blocking Abortions for Rape Victims» . New York: Human Rights Watch. March 5, 2009 . Retrieved on October 19, 2009 .
  14. Back to top↑ García, Carlos (March 9, 2009). «Doctors in Guanajuato deny abortions and denounce women» . La Jornada (Guanajuato, Mexico) . Retrieved on October 18, 2009 .
  15. ↑ Jump to:a b c Marta Lamas, The decriminalization of abortion in Mexico , Nueva Sociedad No 220, March-April 2009 , ISSN 0251-3552
  16. Back to top↑ Cevallos, Diego (May 22, 2009). Avalanche of Anti-Abortion Laws . Inter Press Service . Retrieved on October 18, 2009 .
  17. Back to top↑ The impact of the legalization of abortion in Mexico, BBC, December 18, 2012
  18. Back to top↑ Fátima Juárez (November 16, 2013). “Of abortion, maternity and abandonment of children” . Carlos Slim Institute of Health . Retrieved on July 24, 2014 .
  19. Back to top↑ Henry Espinoza, Lizbeth López-Carrillo, Unwanted pregnancy and abortion as a public health problem. Unsafe abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean: definition of the problem and its prevention, Gac Méd Méx Vol.139, Supplement No. 1, 2003
  20. Back to top↑ Facts on abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean, Guttmacher Institute, January 2012
  21. Back to top↑ World Health Organization (2011). Unsafe abortion: Global and regional estimates of the incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2003 .
  22. Back to top↑ Berer, M. (2000). Bulleting World Health Organization 78 (5): 580-92.
  23. Back to top↑ Donohue III, J .; S. Levitt (2001). ‘The Impact of Legalized Abortions on Crime’. Quarterly Journal of Economics 116 (2): 379-420.
  24. Back to top↑ “Decree amending the Penal Code for the Federal District and adding the Health Law for the Federal District” . Official Gazette of the Federal District. April 26, 2007. Archived from the original on November 29, 2015 . Consulted the 3 of September of 2014 .
  25. ↑ Jump to:a b “Agreement that reforms, adds and repeals several points of Circular / GDF-SSDF-01/06 containing the General Guidelines for Organization and Operation of Health Services related to legal termination of pregnancy in the Federal District ‘ . Official Gazette of the Federal District. June 20, 2012. Archived from the original on November 29, 2015 . Consulted the 3 of September of 2014 .