by Jennifer Paine, GIRE
In April 2018, the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación unanimously voted in favor of two separate cases (“Marimar” and ”Fernanda” ) where a woman or girl who became pregnant due to rape was denied access to a legal abortion. Both victims received legal support from GIRE, a Mexican organization that provides information on reproductive choice.
Both rulings recognized that denial of a legal abortion after rape constitutes a violation of reproductive rights. This is important because abortion after rape is legal in all 32 Mexican states. The federal “Victim’s Law” allows a raped woman or girl to access abortion at any public health center. Modified in 2016, the law’s content is now taken directly from international treaties. For example, the law does not require court authorization, filing of a police report nor parental consent for minors over age 12. Abortion care under these circumstances is defined as “emergency medical services.”
The Court used constitutional and international law to support its rulings. The first article of the Mexican Constitution states:
. . . all individuals shall be entitled to the human rights granted by this Constitution and the international treaties signed by the Mexican State, as well as to the guarantees for the protection of these rights. Said human rights shall not be restricted or suspended, except for the cases and under the conditions established by this Constitution itself.
The provisions relating to human rights shall be interpreted according to this Constitution and the international treaties on the subject, working always in favor of the broader protection of people.
The second ruling discussed the important role of the Federal Executive Committee:
…The Committee should place sufficient emphasis so that the corresponding comprehensive reparations establish guarantees of non-repetition that eradicate the serious human rights violations such as those in the present case, in that all types and levels of authorities should treat requests for the termination of pregnancy after sexual assault effectively, immediately and without objection, privileging the rights of all women who have been victims of cruel and inhuman acts such as sexual assault; these authorities should be aware their action of carrying out the legal termination of pregnancy is derived not only from secondary law, but from the compulsory observance of constitutional mandate. ( “Fernanda” ruling, pp 32-33)