Thursday, December 7, 2023

Morena lawmakers launch initiative for nationwide decriminalization of abortion

The abortion debate is shifting from the state to the federal level with the announcement by lawmakers with the ruling Morena party that they will seek to decriminalize the practice in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Female deputies told a press conference at the lower house of Congress on Monday that if the modifications to the federal criminal code are approved, they will ask state legislatures to change their laws to make them consistent with federal legislation.

But the states have the last word on the issue.

Paola González Castañeda said Morena will propose changes to four articles of the criminal code.

One change would stipulate that the termination of a pregnancy is only considered an abortion if it occurs more than 12 weeks after a woman conceives, she said.

The deputy explained that another article would be modified to establish a penalty of between three and six months’ imprisonment or 100 to 300 days of community work for women who have an abortion after the first 12 weeks.

González also said that Morena is seeking to modify the General Health Law so that access to the legal termination of a pregnancy is a sexual and reproductive right.

She said Morena’s proposal recognizes the right of medical personnel to refuse to perform an abortion on moral or religious grounds but also establishes the obligation for healthcare providers to have staff who are willing to carry out the procedure to ensure that women can access the service.

Wendy Briceño, a Sonora deputy and president of the gender equality commission, said that guaranteeing access to safe abortion services is a federal government responsibility.

“The main focus [of the proposal] is the guarantee that the Mexican state has to provide,” she said, adding that lawmakers from Morena, which leads a coalition with majorities in both houses of Congress, are committed to ensuring that the decriminalization of abortion becomes a reality.

“There are no taboo issues and we believe that [the decriminalization of abortion] would be real substantive representation [of women] . . .” Briceño added.

If Morena succeeds in changing the federal criminal code but a state doesn’t change its laws to reflect the modifications, women could still access legal abortion services in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy at IMSS and ISSSTE hospitals, which are run by the federal government.

Morena’s announcement that it will seek to decriminalize abortion comes just days after lawmakers in Oaxaca approved removing criminal penalties for abortion in the first 12 weeks.

Oaxaca became the second state to decriminalize abortion for any reason after Mexico City. Some other states allow abortion in cases of rape or to protect the life of the mother.

An amnesty law proposal sent to Congress by President López Obrador last month would exonerate women imprisoned for having an abortion as well as medical personnel convicted of illegally carrying out the procedure.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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