The Mexican state of Quintana Roo has voted to decriminalise abortion, becoming the latest area to ease restrictions on the procedure as part of a “green wave” demanding greater reproductive rights across Latin America.
Nineteen lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favour with three against, approving a change in the law that would decriminalise abortion for women up to 12 weeks pregnant and remove a requirement for rape victims to report their abuser to access abortion.
“The struggle is bearing fruit,” the Quintana Roo Feminist Network said on Twitter. “We will insist that abortion is not only legal, but also free and safe.”
GIRE, a reproductive rights group in Mexico, also welcomed the decision, saying more areas of the country now grant people “the right to decide” on abortion. “The green tide continues to advance in Latin America,” Planned Parenthood tweeted.
Abortions became legal in Mexico City 15 years ago, and last year the country’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that penalising abortion was unconstitutional.
While rights activists have campaigned to remove state sanctions to ensure women can freely access abortions, fewer than a dozen of Mexico’s 32 states have since adapted their laws.
The early morning vote in Quintana Roo also came amid a wave of abortion rights victories in Latin America, including in Argentina, which in late 2020 legalised elective abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy.
Ecuador in April 2021 legalised abortion in cases of rape, while women’s rights advocates in other countries in the region – where the Catholic Church, which opposes abortion, continues to wield a strong influence – are pushing to loosen restrictive abortion laws, as well.
The push across the region comes as the United States has gone in the opposite direction after the US Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling.
The top court’s move, which upended the constitutional right to abortion across the US, prompted an outpouring of anger and protests from rights activists who warned that Black and low-income people would be disproportionately harmed.
Since Roe was overturned, several Republican-led states have enacted abortion restrictions or outright bans on the procedure.
Latin American activists have said they remain undeterred by the US abortion rights rollback, with some even pledging to help women in the US access abortion and other reproductive healthcare services.
Back in Mexico’s Quintana Roo, Deputy Cinthya Millan, who opposed the abortion reform, said the session’s early morning schedule meant some voices had not been heard.
The state Congress in March had rejected a similar bill to decriminalise abortion there.
But Deputy Hugo Alday said after the vote that Quintana Roo had a duty to reform its laws in accordance with social dynamics and the federal pact.