The elected president, the green wave, and bittersweet never-ending hope for legal abortion in Mexico

September 23, 2018

BY Oriana López Uribe

Since July, Mexico has been refuelled with hope. The hope that it was real and possible to have a president elected by the people’s votes and not by the usual powers. With former President Vicente Fox winning in 2000, we knew it was possible for other parties to win the election. But after Peña Nieto took over and brought back the political party PRI to Los Pinos, the fear of going back to a dictatorship disguised as democracy was latent.

The hope of many doesn’t rely on Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself; he has a group of brilliant people that could mean many positive changes for the country; economic, political and cultural. But he made some problematic alliances and promises with the evangelicals. It’s a bittersweet hope, with a pinch of fear.

During his campaign, he failed to talk about gender equality, women’s issues or women’s human rights. His only position on abortion is that he wouldn’t touch the current laws. Which only means he is not willing to improve the conditions of women across the country that have no real access to abortion.

The only place where women in Mexico have effective access to legal abortions is Mexico City because it is available on request during the first trimester. The other states have placed many barriers to access abortion even though there are legal abortion indications in all states (in cases of rape, when women’s health/life is at risk, when fetal malformations are incompatible with life, etc). The problem with legal indications for abortions is that they are restrictive as the decision to have an abortion relies on others and not on the woman herself. In the case of Mexico, it means that there is no access to abortion, because authorities don’t want to perform abortions in the basis of religious beliefs and stigma.

So, what does it mean to have a president that claims to be progressive and left-wing but has his own evangelical beliefs together with his professional alliance to evangelicals? That is still a mystery and we all are, with our eyes wide open, expecting to participate critically in this new era for Mexico.

And I need to talk about another country due to the impact that has in our region. Argentina’s initiative to have abortion on request up to 14 weeks and the mobilization for that was amazing. One million people outside the Argentinian Congress celebrated when the first chamber voted and approved the initiative to pass the bill to the Senate. Across Latin America, it definitely fueled our hearts and even the hearts of those less optimistic of what feminist organization could do in our region for abortion. The green scarfs (pañuelos) are the most fashionable item for every feminist this year. The final NO from the Senate disappointed all of us, but the Green Tide keeps moving us and it reignited our hope for better laws.

Back to Mexico, some members of the announced cabinet have been actively talking in the media about how Mexico is ready to legalize abortion, and even some senators have submitted initiatives to legalize abortion across the country. Maybe the green tide from Argentina is also having an impact on them, and they too want to see the streets of Mexico covered with green pañuelos, or maybe they know that we must act fast and move the engines sooner rather than later.