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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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Stevie Nicks Says Fleetwood Mac Would Have Never Been Able To Continue If She Hadn’t Had An Abortion

Fierce

Stevie Nicks Says Fleetwood Mac Would Have Never Been Able To Continue If She Hadn’t Had An Abortion

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

Fleetwood Mac has been a resurgence of attention in the past few weeks thanks, in part, to an Ocean Spray loving skateboarder. Still, long before TikTokers learned about the 1960’s rock band, the five members behind indelible tunes like “Dreams” and “The Chain” were producing some of the best-selling albums in history. Throughout their careers, the singers and songwriters of the group created lyrics with political significance. As a songwriter, and vocalist, Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nick, played a big part in the political impact of the band’s songs, so it’s no wonder why she recently made the decision to open up about her decision to have an abortion during the height of her career in the late 70s.

The beloved singer-songwriter opened up about her generation’s fight for abortion rights in an interview with The Guardian.

Touching on the recent attempts to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Nicks remarked that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision would be overturned. She underlined the importance of abortion rights and how her decision to have one of her own made it possible for Fleetwood Mac to continue.

“If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac,” Nicks told the outlet. “There’s just no way that I could have had a child then, working as hard as we worked constantly. And there were a lot of drugs, I was doing a lot of drugs … I would have had to walk away.”

During her interview, Nicks explained that it was important to her to “make people so happy” through her music but was more invested in ensuring that the group had two female singers and songwriters.

“And I knew that the music we were going to bring to the world was going to heal so many people’s hearts and make people so happy,” Nicks explained. “And I thought, ‘You know what? That’s really important. There’s not another band in the world that has two lead women singers, two lead women writers.’ That was my world’s mission.”

“Abortion rights, that was really my generation’s fight,” she went onto explain. “If President Trump wins this election and puts the judge he wants in, she will absolutely outlaw it and push women back into back-alley abortions.”

Speaking about 2020’s relentless unrest, Nicks recently explained in an interview with Variety that circumstances seem to have become worse than it was decades ago.

“Racism in the last four years is so much worse than it was. I’m 72 years old. I lived through the ‘60s. I’ve seen all this. I fought for Roe vs. Wade; that was my generation’s fight,” she said. “And I don’t want to live in a country that is so divisive. I go, like, well, if this starts over and there’s another four years of this, then I’m going — but we’re not welcome anywhere.”

“So where can I go? And I’m thinking: Oh, space,” she added. “Maybe I can talk Elon Musk into giving us a jet and letting me pick 50 people, and we’re like the arc, and someone can take us and let us live on another planet until the next four years are over.”

Earlier in October, Nicks dropped “Show them The Way” a new song inspired by the 2008 primaries between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The song, was written during the time of the primaries and recently recorded.

“I just knew that right now, with the presidential election and everything else that’s going on, that this was the time,” Nicks explained. “I hope that this song and its words will be seen as a prayer — a prayer for our country, and a prayer for the world. It’s a pretty heavy song. And I think it’s just a spectacular song.”

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