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Mexico supreme court dodges substance in abortion decision

July 29, 2020 GMT
Activists against abortion hold up an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the entrance of the Supreme Court to celebrate the court's decision against an injunction in Veracruz state that aimed to decriminalize abortion for all cases within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Two of Mexico’s 32 states have decriminalized abortion. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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Activists against abortion hold up an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the entrance of the Supreme Court to celebrate the court's decision against an injunction in Veracruz state that aimed to decriminalize abortion for all cases within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Two of Mexico’s 32 states have decriminalized abortion. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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Activists against abortion hold up an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the entrance of the Supreme Court to celebrate the court's decision against an injunction in Veracruz state that aimed to decriminalize abortion for all cases within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Two of Mexico’s 32 states have decriminalized abortion. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s Supreme Court avoided taking up substantively the issue of abortion Wednesday by rejecting an injunction issued by a judge on technical grounds.

Anti-abortion groups celebrated the decision and feminist organizations criticized the court for using technicalities to dodge the issue.

In Mexico, abortion in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy is allowed only in Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca. But federal law allows abortion in situations where the woman was a victim of rape without establishing any time period to carry out the procedure.

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The case before the Supreme Court judges centered on an injunction granted in Veracruz state that ordered the state legislature to remove articles from its criminal code that criminalized abortion and limited access to it in cases of rape.

Women’s groups believed that if the Supreme Court upheld the injunction they could have used a similar tactic in other states that have not changed state legislation to be in line with federal abortion law.

The justices on Wednesday voted 4 to 1 that the Veracruz legislature had not failed to act on the federal government’s instruction, because there was already law on the subject. The dissenting judge argued current Veracruz law runs against the dignity and health of women and international conventions signed by Mexico.

Veracruz law only allows abortion in the case of rape, requires an existing police report and only within 90 days.

Verónica Cruz, a lawyer and director of the nonprofit organization Las Libres, said the case before the court was “not going to decriminalize abortion, nor declare unconstitutional abortion as a crime.”

It only tried to say that Veracruz state lawmakers should legislate in line with a federal government recommendation in late 2017, she said.