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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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

Things That Matter

Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

JiromyXool / Facebook

Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’

Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.

In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.

Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.

Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.

Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Diego Sanchez / Getty Images

One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.

But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.

“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”

Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.

Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.

As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.

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