Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion

Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion
Photo Source: Via Center for Reproductive Rights


Tsedenia Gigar Getaneh 

Women’s Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

“This is a huge and historic victory for Mexico and for the entire region—one that puts human rights front and center,” says Anu Kumar, Ipas president and CEO. “This ruling takes abortion out of the criminal code and returns it to where it belongs—as a matter of health and rights.”

On Wednesday, September 6, Mexico’s Supreme Court made a landmark decision to decriminalize abortion across the entire country, marking a significant development following a previous ruling 2 years ago that declared abortion legal in one northern state. The initial decision had initiated a gradual process of legalizing abortion on a state-by-state basis. (Le Monde Sept. 6, 2023)

Recently, the central state of Aguascalientes became the 12th state to legalize abortion. Judges in states that continue to criminalize abortion will now need to consider the Supreme Court’s ruling as they review related cases. The Supreme Court conveyed its decision stating that it had ruled the legal framework which classified abortion as a crime within the Federal Penal Code to be unconstitutional. (Le Monde Sept. 6, 2023)

  • The Influence of the Green Wave Feminist Movement

Mexico has now joined a growing list of Latin American countries that have reformed their national abortion laws in recent years, responding to the influence of the Green Wave feminist movement. María Antonieta Alcalde, who serves as the director of Ipas Latin America and the Caribbean, expressed the significance of this development by stating, "This marks substantial progress in recognizing reproductive rights. We take pride in being part of the Green Wave movement, which has diligently worked to advance women's rights." Ipas has been actively engaged in Mexico since 1995, providing support to both state and federal health systems, training healthcare providers in abortion procedures, fostering advocates for reproductive rights, and educating communities about sexual and reproductive health.  (Ipas50 Sept. 8, 2023)

The Supreme Court's decision guarantees the legality of abortion in all federal healthcare facilities, even in states where abortion is currently prohibited by state law (although some states had already legalized abortion prior to this federal ruling). Supporters of abortion rights will continue their efforts to change state laws in places where abortion restrictions still exist.After decades of work by activists across the region, Argentina in 2020 legalized the procedure. In 2022, Colombia, a highly conservative country, did the same. (Ipas50 Sept. 8, 2023)

Since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, most states led by conservative lawmakers and governors have adopted bans or tighter restrictions. Meanwhile, states with liberal governments have taken steps to try to protect abortion access. (Ipas50 Sept. 8, 2023)

  • Contrasting Abortion Landscapes: Mexico vs. the United States

A significant advancement is being made in various countries across Latin America and globally, with increased accessibility to abortion services. In stark contrast, the United States is witnessing a retreat in reproductive rights, highlighted by the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade last year. (World Crunch Sept. 8, 2023)

Mexico has now joined the ranks of nations at the forefront of promoting reproductive freedom, while the United States is moving in the opposite direction. This serves as a source of inspiration for individuals in the U.S., who can look to Mexico and the broader Green Wave movement for motivation and guidance. (World Crunch Sept. 8, 2023)

In conclusion, Mexico's Supreme Court's decision to decriminalize abortion nationwide is a significant step forward in recognizing and protecting reproductive rights. It reflects a broader trend in Latin America and contrasts with the recent developments in the United States, where the abortion landscape remains highly polarized. The journey towards reproductive rights and justice continues in both regions, with activists and advocates striving for meaningful change.

Sources and References 

Le Monde (September 6, 2023). Mexican Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion nationwide.  Retrieved September 15, 2023, from

Ipas50 (September 8, 2023). Mexico’s Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the regulation of abortion in the federal criminal code.  Retrieved September 15, 2023, from

World Crunch (September 8, 2023). Roe v Wade to Mexican Supreme Court: What’s Driving Abortion Rights Around the World. Retrieved September 15, 2023, from