As parts of the United States move to enforce legislation to outlaw abortion, America's neighbor to the south has just moved to decriminalize it.
Mexico's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that parts of a law in the northern border state of Coahuila criminalizing abortion were unconstitutional. The decision immediately compels judges across the nation to consider cases with that ruling in mind. And there are thousands of open cases in Mexico against women accused of illegal abortions.
Coahuila's state government issued a statement saying the ruling would have retroactive effects and that any woman imprisoned for abortion should be released "immediately," Reuters reports.
The decision will not immediately result in legal abortion being available across Mexico, experts say. The Roman Catholic Church remains a powerful factor in the country, especially in more conservative states. Mexico, with some 100 million Catholics, is the second-largest Roman Catholic country in the world after Brazil.
The ruling follows Argentina's move to legalize abortion late last year. As CBN News has reported, it is the largest nation in Latin America to legalize elective abortion.
Only four Mexican regions — Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Hidalgo — now allow abortion in most circumstances. Christianity Today reports the other 28 states penalize abortion with some exceptions.
Mexican Catholic bishops said the Supreme Court's decision displayed a "dangerous and disproportionate contrast" between the defense of women's rights and the rights of the unborn.
Members of several pro-life organizations demonstrated in downtown Mexico City by praying while gripping rosaries in front of the court building, holding blue balloons, and displaying signs with messages like, "Let's Save Both Lives," according to Christianity Today.
There are currently no women imprisoned in Mexico for abortion, but there are approximately 4,600 open cases across the country.
In 2007, Mexico City became the first jurisdiction in Mexico to make abortion legal.
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