Mexican abortion ban 'punished poor women'

·1-min read

The Mexican Supreme Court's unanimous decision to decriminalise abortion will principally help poorer women, who have in the past borne the brunt of punishments for the crime, the president of the tribunal says.

Speaking after the court ruled on Tuesday it was no longer possible to prosecute any woman who has an abortion without violating the constitution, Supreme Court president Arturo Zaldivar said denying women the right had been an enormous social injustice.

"Rich girls, and I've said this, and it upsets many that I say it, have always had abortions and never gone to prison. This is a crime which to a great extent punishes poverty," Zaldivar told reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday.

Only four out of Mexico's 32 regional governments had decriminalised abortion before the court's ruling, and dozens of women have been imprisoned in the past decade for having had abortions, according to leading advocacy groups.

Zaldivar is viewed as a close ally of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has put helping the poor at the centre of his administration.

However, Lopez Obrador has shied away from taking sides on the contentious matter of abortion in Mexico, a predominantly Roman Catholic country.

The court's ruling was hailed as a major victory for advocates of women's health and human rights, and came just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice, particularly in Texas on Mexico's northern border.

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