Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that criminal penalties for abortion in the world’s second largest Catholic nation are unconstitutional in a landmark ruling.
The unanimous vote by the 11 members of the high court on Tuesday comes as Texas took steps to restrict access to the procedure after enacting the strictest anti-abortion law in the country last week.
‘This is a historic step for the rights of women,’ Mexican Supreme Court Justice Luis Maria Aguilar said.
Abortion remains illegal in much of Latin America, with only four countries allowing it under all circumstances, and the move in Mexico makes it the most populous country in a region dominated by Catholicism to allow it.
The ruling follows moves in Mexico to decriminalize abortion at the state level, although most of the country still has tough laws in place against women terminating their pregnancy early.
Most recently on July 20, the Mexican state of Veracruz become the fourth in the country to clear away criminal penalties for elective abortion.
It followed votes in Mexico City, Oaxaca and Hidalgo to ease abortion restrictions in late June.
It comes as a women’s movement has been growing in the country, where half of its congress is made up of female politicians, the Washington Post reported.
On Monday the National Action Party, one of the country’s largest conservative opposition parties, voiced its opposition to the arguments being put forth by the court.
‘We are in favor of the defense of life from conception to natural death, which is why we reject abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and any scientific research that threatens human life, which must be protected by the State,’ the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile in Texas last Wednesday, the state enacted the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation, which bans abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy.