The Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a new ruling nullifying criminal penalties for abortion in federal law, in response to a lawsuit brought by an abortion activist group funded with millions of dollars in American foundation grants.
The decision, which was determined in a unanimous vote by the First Chamber of the National Supreme Court of Justice, decreed that penalties for abortion, applied either to the woman or the abortionist, are unconstitutional.
“The First Chamber of the Court decided that the judicial system that penalizes abortion in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional, because it violates the human rights of women and people capable of gestating” declared the court through its Twitter/X feed.
The inclusion of “people capable of gestating” appears to have been made in reference to transgender “men,” that is, women who claim to be men.
Current federal law penalizes the killing of the unborn with prison time from six months to five years for the mother, and from two to five years for medical personnel who participate.
The lawsuit was filed by the “Information Group on Reproductive Choice” (“Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida” or “GIRE”). GIRE has received over three million dollars from the U.S.-based MacArthur Foundation since 1994, according to the foundation’s own website. Additional funding has come from the Channel Foundation in cooperation with the Tides Foundation, and also the Hewlett Foundation. Merck, a pharmaceutical company, gave the group about 45,000 USD in April of last year.
The National Front for the Family denounced the ruling as “supreme injustice,” and stated that the decision, which was not voted on by the entire court, does not apply universally under Mexican law.
“The first chamber of the #SCJN (Supreme Court) is committing a Supreme Injustice, violating the constitution and the appellate law to favor the country’s principal abortionist organization,” wrote Rodrigo Ivan Cortes, President of the National Front for the Family.
Cortes claimed that the ruling “doesn’t have an ‘erga omnes’ (universal) effect,” but added that nonetheless, “it is an attack against the life of the most defenseless, innocent, and vulnerable.”
The Mexican bishops’ conference (CEM) also argued that the decision was only effective for legal clients of GIRE, holding that “the appeal ruling does not constitute a general declaration of invalidity of the laws that prohibit abortion in Federal Penal Code, because they continue to be valid for the rest of the population; nor do they represent an obligation for the state congresses to hurry to decriminalize abortion in their respective penal codes.”
The bishops did not denounce the elimination of such penalties, even for the abortionists, but argued that abortion can be prohibited without imposition of prison time for offenders.
In contrast, GIRE made broader claims for its court victory. “Incredible! The federal institutions throughout the country will have to offer abortion services to women and people capable of gestating who request it,” the organization declared on its X feed. This interpretation was cited in many mainstream media articles on the decision.
Minister Arturo Zaldívar, one of the five judges of the First Chamber of the court and an open political ally of GIRE, also suggested that the decision is considered universally binding in some way, but hinted that penalty-exempt abortions would be limited to certain circumstances.
“With this unanimous judgment by the Constitutional Tribunal, not only are the rules invalidated that were under discussion, but an obligatory standard is established for all of the judges of the country,” said Zaldívar during the hearing. “From now on, it is not possible to prosecute a woman who has an abortion in the circumstances that this constitutional tribunal has considered valid.”
Zaldívar has done little to hide his own ideologically-charged perspective on such matters. He announced the decision on his X feed with a triumphant reference to the radical feminist “green wave” movement, and also mentioned transgender men. “The green wave continues to advance,” wrote Zaldívar, adding three green hearts, a symbol also used by GIRE. “All rights for all women and gestating people! “Until equality and dignity become normal!”
Mexican states have been rapidly eliminating penalties for abortion since the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that criminal penalties cannot be applied to such pregnancies in the first trimester, overturning constitutional amendments in the states of Coahuila and Sinaloa protecting the unborn. A total of 12 states now permit the deadly procedure. A majority of Mexican states still have constitutional amendments protecting the right to life of the unborn, but Wednesday’s ruling is likely to accelerate the reversal of such amendments.
The overturning of protections for the right to life of the unborn are part of a broader anti-family trend that has engulfed Mexico in the last ten years, and which seems to have accelerated profoundly since 2016, when Pope Francis visited the country and expressed support for divorced and remarried couples receiving communion.
Following his visit, a new apostolic nuncio discouraged protests against homosexual “marriage” and encouraged dialogue. Since 2016, the country’s divorce rate has increased significantly, and the marriage rate has dropped, while pro-LGBT rulings and legislation have triumphed throughout the country. The country’s Catholic bishops now give only muted responses, if any.
The recent ascendance in Mexican politics of the socialist MORENA party, which generally supports the legalization of abortion, appears to have been the impetus for the dramatic change of attitude of the Supreme Court regarding the right to life, which had affirmed in repeated rulings as late as 2016 that the states had a right to prohibit the killing of the unborn in most circumstances.
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