NEW YORK - Today in an 8 to 3 groundbreaking vote, Mexico's Supreme Court upheld Mexico City's law making abortion legal in the first trimester, ruling that the Mexico City assembly had the power to legislate over the issue of abortion and recognizing women's autonomy over reproductive decisions. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the Switzerland-based International Commission of Jurists submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case and testified before the Court last spring, arguing that 168 countries allow abortion under certain circumstances. We also argued that courts and constitutional tribunals around the world have recognized that a woman's equality is inextricably linked to her ability to make decisions about her reproductive life. Click here to see the Center's The World Abortion Laws Map
Lilian Sepúlveda, Regional Manager and Legal Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights issued this statement in response:
"This is a momentous decision and legal victory for women and families in Mexico. In a region where abortion is highly restricted, the Supreme Court has taken a huge leap forward in protecting women's basic human rights. Today's vote opens the door for women across the country to demand that their local governments follow Mexico City's example.
"Countries around the world are recognizing that a woman can only lead a healthy and fulfilling life if she has access to reproductive healthcare-including safe abortion. Now local advocates and activists must continue to be vigilant in demanding that the Mexico City government implement the law ensuring that access to safe abortion is not just a right on paper, but a right in reality."
In the past 20 years, at least 35 countries have liberalized their abortion laws. In 2006 for example, Colombia liberalized its blanket criminalization of abortion. The country's highest court cited fundamental rights to life, health, equality, liberty and bodily integrity, and held that, "Protecting...reproductive rights is a direct path to promoting the dignity of all human beings and a step forward in humanity's advancement towards social justice."
In addition, in 2005 in Paulina Ramirez v. Mexico, the Mexican government reached a friendly settlement with the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners, Alaide Foppa and Information Group on Reproductive Choice, acknowledging that access to legal abortion is a human right. The settlement was reached on behalf of a 13-year-old rape victim who was denied a legal abortion in the state of Baja California. And in the groundbreaking decision K.L. v. Peru the same year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee established that denying access to legal abortion violates women's most basic human rights and held Peru accountable for failing to protect a young woman forced by state health officials to carry a fatally-impaired fetus to term.