Not long after neighboring Texas cracked down on abortion restrictions, Mexico's supreme court on Tuesday voted to decriminalize the procedure, "a striking step in a country with one of the world's largest Catholic populations," reports The Washington Post.
Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for the Mexican feminist organization GIRE, called the ruling "a historic moment for feminists and activists" who have been lobbying women's rights in Mexico for years. "This will not only have an impact in Mexico; it will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region," she added. Only four Latin American countries — Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, and Guyana — allow abortion "under virtually all circumstances early in pregnancy," the Post reports.
In Mexico, the procedue will not instantaneously become widely available; instead, the ruling will "outline a route" for states to change their laws, explained Diego Valadés, a former supreme court judge. Valadés also noted that the ruling will have "very broad effects," like automatically freeing Mexican women who have been jailed for getting abortions.
The court's unanimous decision arrives as a momentous women's movement continues to transform Mexico. Although abortion is still illegal in most of Latin America, "there has been a surge in demonstrations demanding more rights for women, particularly focused on rising violence," per the Post.
"The effects on women's health, including the number of deaths registered due to clandestine abortions, and the number of child pregnancies, represent a profound social problem," said Valadés. "So the attitude of most of society toward abortion has changed." Read more at The Washington Post.