Mexico's Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a federal law criminalizing abortion, reaffirming a ruling that criminal penalties for abortion were unconstitutional and allowing the federal health care system to provide services. Mexico's highest court, which consists of 11 justices, declared that criminal penalties for abortion were unconstitutional in 2021, but the ruling applied only to the northern state of Coahuila, where that case originated, Reuters reports. Wednesday's ruling will increase abortion access throughout Mexico, marking a major victory for abortion rights advocates in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
It's also the latest in a wave of reproductive rights advancements across Latin America in recent years. In the U.S., the Supreme Court struck down the national right to an abortion in 2022 and nearly half of the 50 states have restricted access dramatically. "We wouldn't have this ruling if we didn't have the Coahuila one two years ago, but I would say that the one today has more reach, definitely in terms of access to abortion," said Isabel Fulda of the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), the advocacy group that brought the case. The court sided with GIRE in a challenge to the federal penal code and declared that the section of the national law that criminalized abortion could no longer take effect. The ruling opens the door for the federal health care system to start providing abortions, which could become increasingly important as Mexico mulls centralizing health services, abortion rights advocates say.