Mexican Women Jailed For Having Abortions

Illustration for article titled Mexican Women Jailed For Having Abortions

An activist in Mexico says six women in the state of Guanajuato are serving 25 to 30 years in prison for homicide — because they had abortions. Guanajuato also happens to lead the country with its rate of teenage pregnancies.

The women, all poor and uneducated, are three to eight years into their sentences, according to an interview Veronica Cruz, director of a women's rights center, gave to El Universal. Another 160 women in Guanajuato are facing charges equivalent to murdering a family member. Cruz says that two of the imprisoned women were raped, and that "All the men that got them pregnant abandoned and accused them."

Abortion laws in Mexico are decided on the state level, and Guanajuato is notoriously conservative — according to El Universal, it was "the only state in the country that refused to promulgate a law against gender violence, as had been federally mandated." Cruz says it was because of an attitude that such violence didn't exist.


In 2000, Guanajuato officials tried to get rid of the rape exemption for abortion, and in 2008, "the state's congress passed its 'right-to-life' reform in a debate-free vote that lasted five minutes."

And a recent profile of Cruz in More notes that in Guanajuato,

A woman who's been impregnated by a rapist and cannot afford a private abortion must petition the state for a publicly funded one—and it has denied every request since 2001. One woman was told by an attorney that although she was within her rights to obtain an abortion, no one would perform it; often hospitals send rape victims away. And some women who've given birth to stillborn babies have been imprisoned because officials charge them with a failed abortion.

Last year, Guanuajuato officials insisted to The Atlantic that "no woman in Guanajuato has been jailed for having an abortion." Apparently, that's to be believed just as much as their rhetoric about caring about "life."

Six Mexican Women Convicted of Homicide for Having Abortions</a? [LAHT]… [More]
Mexico's Abortion Wars [The Atlantic]

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As a Mexican, this saddens and confuses me. I was recently visiting Guanajuato for the first time, and it is known as one cultural capital of the country, looks pretty up to the times in many aspects. I guess this happens more on the rural areas.

Its hard to believe this is the same country I live in. in Mexico city, abortions are covered by social security, teen pregnancy rates are going down, and the quality of life young professional people have is pretty high, specially when compared with my college friends in the US ( I was an exchange student in the US, and I can tell they struggle for jobs and afford for a living).

Anyways, I am not so sure where I am standing in the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate (I was very much pro-life, but spending more and more time in europe has made me ponder this lately) but jail time? my heart is broken.