In the past month, two Mexican states have passed laws to further criminalize abortion. Queretero and Oaxaca became the 15th and 16th Mexican states out of 31 to define life as beginning at fertilization. These laws result in the criminalization of abortions for all women with the exception of rape victims but not victims of incest.
What these legislators are forgetting is that the prohibition of abortion will only cause many of these women to seek to terminate their unwanted pregnancies under dangerous and risky circumstances. According to the Secretary of Public Health, in six of the 16 states that have criminalized abortion, maternal mortality is five times the national average.
According to John Ross in his article War on Mexican Women:
The anti-abortion push is being orchestrated by the ruling right-wing PAN party in connivance with the Princes of Catholic Hierarchy…their goal is to repeal Mexico City’s free abortion-on-demand law…which has provided 30,000 women the right to choice over the past two years, according to the Mexico City Women’s Initiative.
In addition, the Secretary of Education (run by the PAN party), confiscated first year high school biology text books in the city of Guanajuato, on the charge that they included education on birth control methods. According to John Ross,
The Guanajuato Education Secretariast (SEG) distributed 114,00 of their own biology textbooks that demonized masturbation and homosexuality, skipped any mention of AIDS prevention and advocated abstinence as the only method of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
Last month the Mexican Senate also voted in Arturo Chavez Chavez as their new attorney general. Chavez Chavez’s previous work was as chief prosecutor in the state of Chihuahua, home to Cuidad Juarez, the location of hundreds of brutal murders of young women throughout the 90s and until today. His conduct in regard to those murders has been seriously questioned, including assertions that he actually tried to place blame on the victims themselves.
With the same abortion criminalization bills pending in Michoacan, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Mexico State, and the current tide of anti-choice and anti-women policies, it’s a difficult road ahead for women in Mexico.
We’ve seen time and time again internationally that laws which criminalize abortion don’t serve to lower overall rates of abortion, they just increase rates of maternal mortality. We’ve got to work against these policies that put the health and livelihood of women at risk.
By Krystal Chan, Communications and Development Intern