MEXICO: Women and Activists Protest for Legal Abortions  

Photo: Fires ignite around Mexico City Cathedral as protesters demonstrate for legal abortion rights.

By Nélida Tello

After nationwide protests demanding safe, legal, and free abortions in all of Mexico, president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s bourgeois party Morena initiated a reform process to amend the federal penal code and the general public health law which would legalize abortions, up to 12 weeks, in all of Mexico.

Currently, abortions are illegal in all of Mexico except in the case of rape, and illegal abortions are punishable by up to five years in prison in some states. The exceptions are Mexico City, which legalized them in 2007, and Oaxaca, which did the same last week.

Since the legalization of abortions in Mexico City, state governments lobbied by the Catholic Church have attempted to tighten abortion laws and aggravate legal punishment. Many women have been forced into performing clandestine abortions, which affect indigenous and rural women disproportionately. In Oaxaca, clandestine abortions are the third highest cause of maternal deaths.

On September 28, women and activists in 17 states protested for the legalization of abortions. In Mexico City, protesters set fire to the National Chamber of Commerce. Armed with hammers and bats, they smashed Metrobus windows and attempted to light the Metropolitan Cathedral on fire before being stopped by police. The Mexico City government tried to appear feminist by deploying 2,000 women police officers to control the protest but failed to maintain order and faced violent retaliation from protesters.

In Monterey, hundreds of people took to the streets demanding the decriminalization of abortions. As the march culminated, protesters reported being harassed and videotaped by local police officers, who arrested at least two protesters. In Guererro, a state with one of the harshest punishments for abortions, activists protested for three consecutive days.

A participant from Mexico City, in an interview with El Universal, stated that Mexico “has experienced feminist advances by having more women in political positions.” What these women politicians have done in office, however, consistently illustrates their fealty to the ruling class over their gender. Earlier this year, a 17-year-old girl was raped by four police officers, and both “feminist” Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Attorney Ernestina Godoy firmly defended the police officers.

Laws passed by the reactionary old state, like this week’s abortion reforms, do not emancipate women. These protests reveal the potential of the masses, which provoke the fear-stricken bourgeoisie to respond with concessions, but without greater organization, militarization, and proletarian leadership, these concessions will inevitably be taken back, and the majority of women will remain exploited and oppressed. Revolutionary organization Current of the People Red Sun (Sol Rojo) in Oaxaca has begun to unite women and men under the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, taking the fight for women’s emancipation beyond reforms and towards the conquest for power.