Things That Matter

Mexico’s Oaxaca Becomes The First State to Decriminalize Abortion In A Truly Historic Vote

The Mexican state of Oaxaca has legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. The Oaxaca Congress voted to approve a bill that would legalize the procedure. The stunning decision was colored by protests from both anti-abortion and pro-choice activists who wore green scarves in solidarity. 

This is big news as it is only the second region in the country, after Mexico City (which legalized the procedure in 2007) to do so. The historic moment demonstrates that attitudes are changing and evolving in the largely Roman Catholic country thanks to pro-choice advocates and activists. 

Mexico’s Oaxaca State Legalizes Abortion

The Congress voted 24 in favor, 10 against to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, which is also the general standard in most of the United States.

“We find no negative reasons to disapprove the verdict. There can be moral reasons, but it is urgent to legislate to hinder violence against women,” said Elisa Zepeda Laguna, a legislator of the Morena party and president of the Commission of Justice Pursuit and Administration. 

While President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has avoided taking a clear stance on abortion, the legislation’s passage, comes days after Lopez Obrador said he would grant amnesty to women serving jail terms for abortion. The local Congress which approved the bill is largely dominated by Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement. 

Mexico’s abortion laws

With the exceptions of the two regions now, abortion is only legal in Mexico in special circumstances. Moreover, those who do have abortions face criminal penalties. The law is extremely sexist and transphobic, it assumes anyone who gets pregnant is a woman, then presumably seeks to slut-shame the hypothetical woman for getting pregnant in the first place.

A person who procures an illegal abortion can be imprisoned for 6 months to 2 years provided they meet these three misogynist criteria: the woman doesn’t have a “bad reputation” (whatever that means), she has been able to conceal her pregnancy, and that the pregnancy was born of an illegitimate relationship. If even one of these criteria is not met, the person faces a higher penalty of one to five years in prison. 

But it’s not just recipients of abortions who face strict laws. Abortion providers can face one to six years in prison. The only exceptions are in cases of rape, pregnancies that put the mother’s health or life at risk, and in the case of serious genetic disorders. 

Abortion is about public health and social justice

Laguna notes that decriminalizing abortion is a broad social issue because it is largely poor and indigenous women who do not have legal access to the procedure. 

“In Oaxaca, abortion is the third cause of maternal death,” said congresswoman Magaly Lopez Dominguez. “No one is in favor of abortion, but of saving the lives of women that have to take that decision.”

Abortions are not only expensive but when women cannot have free and safe access to them, they often attempt to induce one themselves. These attempts often fail, comprising the health of the mother — which will only result in more expensive healthcare costs. Alternatively, women are forced to bear children they cannot afford to raise further trapping them — and their children — in a vicious cycle of poverty. 

You can never really ban abortion

Illegalizing abortions does not stop abortions from happening, it only makes them dangerous for the mother and clogs the legal system. The National Abortion Federation reports that abortion rates in Mexico, though illegal, are much higher than that of the United States. 

“These findings confirm research from other parts of the world – that making abortion illegal does not significantly decrease its frequency, it just makes it unsafe and puts women’s lives at risk,” said Fatima Juarez, lead author of the study.

In 2006, the abortion rate was 40% higher than in the U.S. and this was before it had been legalized anywhere in the country. 

“In Oaxaca a year more than 9,000 women undergo an abortion and according to the latest data, 17 percent are indigenous women under 20,” Natalia Torres, a legal representative of the activist group March 8, told Al Jazeera.

 Between 2013 and 2016, 20 people were sentenced to prison in the region for receiving abortions. 

“In four years, at least 2,184 investigations have been opened for abortion in Mexico. According to official numbers, there are at least 500 cases each year; in January 2018, there were 49 cases registered,” reports El Universal.

Abortion is not controversial 

Abortion is not complicated. Free and safe access to abortion is a human right, as all humans have the right to self-determination, it combats poverty cycles, and keeps the most vulnerable women out of the prison system, saving everyone else tax dollars. 

As the United States moves backward on abortion rights, it is all the more inspiring to see Mexico move forward. 

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Things That Matter

Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz has faced a series of outrages since being accused of helping to incite the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The latest problem plaguing Sen. Cruz is his trip to Mexico while his constituents in Texas freeze during an extreme weather event.

Sen. Ted Cruz was caught boarding a flight to Mexico as Texans are left freezing.

Texas is being slammed with a historic extreme winter weather storm. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are without power for the fifth day in a row while the senator from Texas was heading off to Cancun. Critics are angered that Sen. Cruz would leave the state while his constituents are forced to boil water to survive one of the worst winter storms on record.

Politicians are calling Sen. Cruz out for leaving his constituents during a natural disaster.

The Castro brothers are speaking up as well. Texans are dying from the extreme weather after the power grid was overloaded from sudden demand. The power outages have lasted for multiple days and the death toll continues to climb from the freezing temperatures. So far, 24 people have died from the winter storm.

Part of the problem is that Texas has their own power grid separated from the rest of the nation in an attempt to avoid federal regulations. The decision was made in the 1930s after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Federal Power Act. This allowed the federal government to oversee interstate electricity sales. However, Texas utilities did not cross state lines. This created an electricity island.

People are not letting the trip go unnoticed.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is responsible for overseeing the power grid and officials had a grim revelation about the power outages. On Tuesday, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness addressed the media about the power outages.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” Magness said about the call to cut power to some customers as the icy conditions settled in on the area.

He further explained that some of the power outages could last for an undetermined amount of time.

This is not the first time Texas had weather-induced power outages because of winter weather. The state saw the same situation on a smaller scale play out in 2011. The winter storm in 2011 knocked out power across the state and yet Texas officials did not follow suggestions to prevent the current crisis.

A report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation called on Texas to “winterize” their energy infrastructure. The report highlights how the current infrastructure was not ready to take on the weather it experienced in 2011 and, according to The Texas Tribune, Texas didn’t heed the warning.

On Tuesday, 60 percent of Houston businesses and households remained without power because of the weather.

Sen. Cruz quickly booked a return flight to Houston after the outrage.

Facing mounting anger over his warm escape from Texas, Sen Cruz quickly U-turned back to Houston. He claims to have been accompanying his daughters to Mexico and not going on the vacation himself.

A flurry of tweets about the situation show a growing number of people who are skeptical of the senator’s statement. Ted Cruz was photographed with luggage both in Texas and coming back through the Cancun airport. The luggage has set off a debate about whether or not Sen. Cruz honestly went to Mexico to drop his daughters.

READ: Sen. Joe Manchin Calls On Senate To Expel Sen. Ted Cruz After Insurrection

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