On 29 July Mexico’s supreme court (SCJN) rejected a landmark ruling which would have required the legislature in the eastern state of Veracruz to reform its penal code to end the criminalisation of abortion.
The SCJN ruling is a major setback for pro-reproductive rights campaigners in Mexico: only in Ciudad de México (CDMX) and the south-western state of Oaxaca is abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy permitted, although all states (on paper but not always in practice) authorise it in the case of rape or if the pregnant mother faces serious health risks, as a result of separate SCJN rulings in 2008 and 2019.
- The president of the first chamber of the SCJN, Juan Luis González Alcántara, supported the injunction upheld last year by a judge in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state, requiring the state congress to reform three articles in the penal code, but his colleagues rejected it and it was voted down by 4-1.
- González Alcántara expressed regret at the vote of his colleagues, arguing that the issue was one of defending the human rights of women. He contended that the prohibition on abortion was unconstitutional as Mexico has signed international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1979, and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women, which was adopted in 1994 and endorsed by the Organization of American States (OAS).
- While delivering their verdict, two of González Alcántara’s colleagues said they had voted against the injunction on the grounds that it would have overstepped the SCJN’s constitutional powers, and on a legal technicality.
- Conservative groups celebrated the SCJN ruling, while pro-reproductive rights campaigners expressed frustration that some magistrates had allowed technical matters to obscure the real issue at stake.
A favourable ruling would have set a legal precedent, with more cases brought by women across Mexico to compel state legislatures to amend the penal code accordingly, paving the way for decriminalisation of abortion nationwide.
In brief: Mexico extends dollar swap line with US
* Mexico’s central bank (Banxico) has extended its temporary US dollar liquidity swap line with its US counterpart, the Federal Reserve (Fed), to 31 March 2021. The arrangement, originally valid until 31 September and worth up to US$60bn, was set up by the Fed on 19 March with the aim of easing tension in global dollar-denominated finance markets caused by the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Banxico’s statement follows an announcement from the Fed that it would extend all such emergency swap lines, which it also holds with Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, and Sweden. Any use of the swap line in Mexico is subject to guidelines outlined by the exchange commission, the country’s exchange policy body which comprises top-level officials from Banxico and the finance ministry.