Mexican Women Face Up to 30 Years Prison Time for Having an Abortion

Six women in the conservative Mexican state of Guanajuato have been sentenced to 25 to 30 years prison time for the crime of making decisions about their own bodies.

Actually, that’s not completely accurate: one woman’s crime was having a body that made the decision for her.

Ms. Magazine reports that the six women were tried and sentence for homicide under laws criminalizing abortion. Activists working with the women reports that all six defendants were poor and had little education. Two were impregnated by rape, and all were abandoned by the sperm-providers. One had a spontaneous abortion, a.k.a. a miscarriage.

In the United States, even those who want abortion banned are divided over whether a woman who goes ahead and obtains or self-induces an illegal abortion should be charged with homicide and locked up in jail for 15 years to life like any killer. But, in Mexico, Guanajuanto can brag about sporting the country’s harshest penalties for abortion, which is only legal in Mexico City, and even rape survivors can face 25 to 30 years in prison.

Guanajuato can also brag about having the country’s highest teen pregnancy rate, which might be related to the utter refusal to teach sex education in schools in the area. The mayor even tried to ban passionate kissing in public, and duly became a laughingstock.

It was also the only state to fail to enact legislation against gender violence, such as rape, despite the fact that this had been required on the federal level. The excuse for not instating such a law? Well, because violence against women in Guanajuanto doesn’t exist, so it’s just silly to have legislation against it. I guess they said as much to the women who decided to abort the pregnancy caused by their rapist.

After all, why attempt to prevent unwanted pregnancy by teaching youth about sex and birth control or instituting legal protections for women against rape when you can simply throw vulnerable women in jail for ending a pregnancy that they didn’t want and were unprepared to provide for.

Photo credit: Steve Rhodes

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