Abortion in Oaxaca: A transforming state in Mexico.

October 3, 2019

BY Oriana López Uribe

After the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007, more than half of the Mexican states reformed their constitutions to add the “protection of life from conception/fertilization” clause, with the hope of creating a symbolic “lock” to prevent the model of decriminalization of Mexico City from happening in those other states.

 Mexico is going through what the president has called the 4th Transformation, which has had many contradictions over the past year. On the topic of abortion specifically there have been discussions on decriminalizing but also suggesting that it would only happen via referendum.

 This is also a moment when we have reached parity in Congress, with a “progressive” balance of power, so some of us would say that it is now when we have the best context we have ever had to move the issue further and all the way in.

 At the same time, at the federal level legislators are betting on passing an amnesty for all minor crimes so that people that are in jail for crimes that don’t represent a danger to society are given a pardon and immediately released. This, from a social justice approach and a gender justice approach is much needed, as there are many marginalized women that need to be released as soon as possible.

 Abortion is among the crimes included in the proposed amnesty, feminist legislators are being vocal about this as something that is the greatest measure they can take on abortion. This approach is problematic, given that through the amnesty they are confirming that abortion is a crime, which is exactly the kind of narrative that we need to stop. But also, it is unbelievable that feminists legislators are using this as their abortion move because according to the data from 2016 at the federal level there are no women in jail for abortion.

For many women, abortion is the embodiment of the right to health, bodily autonomy, education, equality,  and the right to live free from discrimination. Just freeing them, rather than decriminalizing fully will not result in structural changes.

 Meanwhile, in a much braver approach, the Congress of Oaxaca decriminalized abortion up to the first trimester (the same limit as in Mexico City). This is a state that has in their local constitution the “protection of life from conception” clause, proving that the “lock” placed by the anti-rights legislators is not incompatible with the right of women to decide whether they want to continue with their pregnancies or not.

 I believe Oaxaca has shown us all that braver approaches are what is needed in these times, and then gladly we can embrace the 4th transformation of the country.