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While many Americans are still reeling at the near-total abortion ban in Texas and the Supreme Court’s refusal to take action on it, our relatively religious and conservative neighbors down south have made a surprising move. On Tuesday, Mexico — a majority-Catholic country — decriminalized abortion.

The Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that it was unconstitutional to prosecute a woman who has had an abortion.

In recent years, there has been an active movement among Mexican women to speak out against the criminalization of abortion. And now, it seems like the government may have listened. While abortion is legal in three of Mexico’s 32 states (Oaxaca, Hidalgo and Veracruz) and in Mexico City, there are still certain states that are able to jail women for having an abortion. In Coahuila, women can be jailed for up to three years and face a fine for electing to have the procedure.

Prosecuting women for having an abortion is so common in Mexico, that 432 investigations into illegal abortions were opened in just the first seven months of 2021. Feminists and pro-choice activists see this ruling as one step in the long road to the legalization of abortion.

The decision to decriminalize abortion was a unanimous one among the court’s 11 justices.

“Today is a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar in a statement. “It is a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.”

“I’m against stigmatizing those who make this decision, which I believe is difficult to begin with, due to moral and social burdens,” said Supreme Court Justice Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat, “It shouldn’t be burdened as well by the law. Nobody gets voluntarily pregnant thinking about getting an abortion later,”

Mexico’s decriminalization of abortion simply means that women can no longer be prosecuted for having the procedure. The procedure is still technically outlawed in 29 of Mexico’s 32 states. Because of this, many women still rely on clandestine tactics to terminate their pregnancies.

Unfortunately, the women who are more likely to rely on dangerous methods to terminate their pregnancies are poor women and women who live in rural areas where they can’t access places to get a safe abortion, like Mexico City.

“We have seen terrible cases where they do it with coat hangers, where they hit their bellies,” said Arely Torres Miranda, a Mexican reproductive rights advocate, to The New York Times. “They put their lives at risk.”

It was not lost on many folks that Mexico has taken such a big step towards reproductive freedom just when the U.S. has taken such a big step back.

As one observant Twitter user wrote, “Many Americans already have to travel to Mexico for affordable medical care. Now Texans may need to go there for reproductive services too.”

Another wrote: “Mexico is majority Catholic nation. Maybe they can explain the need for women’s reproductive healthcare access to Republicans.”