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Mexico: Court quashes time limit on rape case abortions

July 8, 2021

The Supreme Court has said the state of Chiapas breached a young rape victim's human rights by refusing her a termination because local law provided for a three-month time limit.

Arturo Zaldivar, the president of Mexico's Supreme Court.
Judges at the Supreme Court in Mexico dismissed the state law as unconstitutional.Image: El Universal/Zumapress/imago images

Mexico's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state law limiting abortions to the first three months of pregnancy for rape victims is unconstitutional.

Judges were asked to decide whether a doctor in the southern state of Chiapas could deny an underage rape victim with cerebral palsy a termination.

The director of a public hospital in the city of Tapachula refused to so, saying too much time had passed and citing the local legislation.

What did the court say?

But the country's top court said enforcing such a time limit breached the woman's human rights.

"The refusal of the health authority resulted in a series of serious violations of the human rights of the victim and her mother," according to the ruling. It revokes an earlier decision by a district judge in the state of Chiapas.

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Judges said the law showed "total disregard for human dignity and the free development of the personality of pregnant women, whose pregnancy is not the result of a free and consensual decision."

The court's decision could spark a series of other legal challenges by women living in other Mexican states.

Statues of babies wrapped in plastic sit on display during a religious service held by anti-abortion groups in a cemetery in Mexico City.
Catholic groups in Mexico have long campaigned against abortionImage: AP

What is in the law in other parts of Mexico?

All but two of Mexico's 32 states allow abortion in rape cases, but some impose time limits of 12 weeks or 90 days.

Only Mexico City and two other states allow for legal terminations in situations other than rape.

Hidalgo, central Mexico, became the third state in the Latin American country to do so on Tuesday.

In Mexico City, where abortion has been legal since 2007, 231,191 abortions were performed last year.

jf/rt (AFP, EFE, AP)