Mexico's Oaxaca state decriminalizes abortion

PHOTO: Pro-choice demonstrators celebrate after lawmakers passed a legislation that decriminalizes abortion, outside the local congress in Oaxaca, Mexico Sept. 25, 2019.PlayJorge Luis Plata/Reuters
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Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca celebrated as it became the second region in the predominantly Catholic country to decriminalize abortion.

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Footage of women cheering and jumping in the air as the vote was announced quickly circulated on social media after lawmakers in Oaxaca's Congress voted 24-10 in favor of legislation that would legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion after 12 weeks remains criminal, and the legislation also includes the ability to criminalize anyone found forcing women to receive an abortion.

PHOTO: Feminists of the so-called Green Tide celebrate and wave handkerchiefs after the Oaxaca State Congress decriminalized abortion by approving an opinion authorizing the legal termination of pregnancy before 12 weeks gestation, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Daniel Ricardez/EPA-EFE/REX
Feminists of the so-called 'Green Tide' celebrate and wave handkerchiefs after the Oaxaca State Congress decriminalized abortion by approving an opinion authorizing the legal termination of pregnancy before 12 weeks gestation, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

But the vote faced serious opposition, with opponents, including members of the Catholic church, screaming "killers!" as the vote took place, according to the Guardian.

The Mexican Congress has declared 2019 the "Year for the Eradication of Violence Against Women." Previously, abortion was only permitted in cases of rape, fetal malformation and medical risk to the woman.

In Mexico, abortion is regulated at the state level. Oaxaca, whose legislature is majority women, followed Mexico City in decriminalizing abortion.

Mexico City's legislative assembly voted in 2007 by 46 votes to 16 to remove the threat of a one to three-year prison term for women who sought the procedure in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The decision faced staunch opposition by the Catholic Church, which collected more than 70,000 signatures on a petition for a referendum on the issue, per The Telegraph.

"In Oaxaca, abortion is the third cause of maternal death," said state Deputy Magaly López Domínguez in Spanish, according to local media.

"We made history for the dignity, rights and life of the women of Oaxaca," she later tweeted in Spanish.

PHOTO: Pro-choice demonstrators celebrate after lawmakers passed a legislation that decriminalizes abortion, outside the local congress in Oaxaca, Mexico Sept. 25, 2019. Jorge Luis Plata/Reuters
Pro-choice demonstrators celebrate after lawmakers passed a legislation that decriminalizes abortion, outside the local congress in Oaxaca, Mexico Sept. 25, 2019.

The decision drew praise nationally and internationally.

Mexico's National Woman's Institute, a federal agency which promotes the rights and equal treatment of women in Mexico, tweeted in Spanish, "Today is a historic day for Mexico and the feminist struggle."

Meanwhile the United Nations Women's program in Mexico tweeted in Spanish, "We join the celebration for this advance in women's human rights and congratulate the women of Oaxaca."

The president of Mexico has remained silent on the issue of abortion, but the Government of Mexico wrote on Twitter, in Spanish, that it "celebrates" the decision reached by the Congress of Oaxaca.

"Our democracy is strengthened with the extension of rights and the recognition of the autonomy of women to make decisions over their own bodies," the government account tweeted, using the hashtag #AbortoLegalOaxaca -- "legal abortion Oaxaca."