Those covered by Mexico’s national health system include federal employees, salaried workers who pay social security, and people living in poverty.
The ruling marks a growing acceptance of the procedure in Latin America, even as it’s restricted in the United States.
The Mexican court in 2021 overturned a ban on abortion in the northern state of Coahuila. That decision established jurisprudence for the entire country and has been called Mexico’s “Roe v. Wade,” a reference to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling making abortion legal in the first trimester.
But in order for that Mexican decision to have broad impact, individual states had to change their laws criminalizing abortion. Activist groups filed court challenges to force their hand, but it was a time-consuming process.
Last week, Aguascalientes became the 12th of Mexico’s 32 states to decriminalize the procedure.
Wednesday’s unanimous decision will require Mexico’s federal hospitals and clinics to offer abortion. They include thousands of facilities belonging to Mexico’s Social Security Institute, or IMSS, which runs the largest public health network in Latin America.
While women’s groups cheered the decision, some antiabortion organizations condemned it. One such group, ConParticipación, tweeted that the ruling constituted “pre-natal discrimination, and abandonment of women.”
Mexico is the world’s second-largest Catholic country, and for years, the public was strongly against abortion. But attitudes have been changing — here and in other parts of Latin America.
A vociferous feminist movement known as the “Green Tide” has pressed for abortion rights around the region. Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia have decriminalized the procedure, while Chile has eased restrictions. Yet some countries have maintained strict bans, including El Salvador and Honduras.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, permitting numerous states to outlaw most or all abortions. Since then, Mexico has become the source of thousands of abortion pills shipped clandestinely over the border to Americans seeking to end their pregnancies.