Mexico Supreme Court Opens Path for Legal Abortions Nationwide
Activists have hailed the Court’s latest ruling as a major victory for women and a first step towards changing the legal landscape of abortions in Mexico.
Reproductive Rights Victory
Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously voted 10-0 on Tuesday to strike down a series of laws from Coahuila state that sought to effectively criminalize having an abortion in the vast majority of cases with three years in prison.
Over 500 women have been investigated under the law for seeking and performing abortions, and any currently behind bars are now set to be released. The court found that the law was excessively punitive and infringed on human rights.
In her arguments, Justice Norma Piña Hernández said, “According to a secular state, the defense and autonomy of the privacy of women must be unconditional, according to her life plan, and presume that her decision is rational, deliberate and autonomous.”
Justice Arturo Zaldivar, president of the Court, approached the topic from a different angle. “The criminalization of abortion punishes the poorest women, the most marginalized, the forgotten and most discriminated against, in the country,” he wrote. “It’s a crime that in its nature punishes poverty.”
The ruling was celebrated in Mexico as a major win for women’s rights, and it means abortions before 12-weeks can’t be criminalized. Still, it may actually be a shallow victory since only three Mexican states and Mexico City explicitly allow abortions with almost no exceptions.
Even though the Court’s ruling technically applies to the whole nation, it requires legal challenges in the remaining 28 states in order for it to go into effect locally, which is expected to take years. Other options include changes in state law by local legislatures, but that may be an insurmountable hurdle nationwide. After Mexico City passed an ordinance in 2007 that allowed abortions, which the Supreme Court found constitutional, over half of the states passed laws explicitly stating that “life began at conception,” including Coahuila.
Tuesday’s decision now provides a roadmap for legal challenges, prompting activists to double their efforts in bringing suits against state laws. The first state that may be changed under the new precedent is Sinaloa, where a case stemming from its anti-abortion law will be heard later this week.
Limited Abortion Access
Despite the win for women’s reproductive rights, there are still hurdles in place for those seeking abortions. Even in places where abortions have been legal, clinics are rare. Women most often instead buy medications like misoprostol, which is believed to have an 85% success chance if carried out within 12 weeks.
Mexico is just the latest Latin American country to move towards legalizing abortions after Argentina’s Senate passed laws last year. However, the issue remains a polarizing one in Latin America, where most countries still ban the procedure in most cases.
The ruling may provide some relief not only for Mexicans but also Texans. Coahuila sits just across the U.S. border, giving Texans another place to seek legal abortions. Travel to Mexico for medical procedures is relatively common in border states, particularly because the quality of care is comparable to that in the U.S. at a fraction of the price.
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95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
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U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.