On 4 November, members of the group Pacto por la Vida y Libertad y los Derechos de las Mujeres (Pact for Life, Liberty and Women’s Rights) highlighted the prosecution of 30 women –including two girls of 12 and 16 years of age respectively– by the judicial authorities in the state of Puebla, Mexico for the “crime of abortion”. In a meeting with the Puebla State Government’s representative in Mexico City they demanded that these proceedings be stopped. According to data collected by this group and the Red por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (Sexual and Reproductive Rights Network, or DDSER) in Puebla, nine women have been convicted of this offence and are awaiting sentencing, while the cases of the remaining 21 women are still in their investigative phrase. Due to the fact that the authorities have refused to disclose the circumstances in which these abortions occurred and the state of the case against the women, the activists are still unsure whether the prosecution is seeking punitive or non punitive sentences in these matters.
Natali Hernández Arias, a DDSER representative from Puebla, indicated that these prosecutions seemed to derive from the new legislation passed by the state authorities in March 2009 which introduced the “protection of life from the moment of conception until natural death”. She also called attention to the fact that in the period in which these prosecutions had begun (March 2009 to April 2010) there is no record of any investigation or prosecution into crimes of sexual violence in Puebla. As was the case in Guanajuato (see my blog post from September “Women imprisoned for miscarrying in Mexico”), all of the women being prosecuted originate from municipalities with the highest levels of social marginalisation and poverty in the state, where access to education, health care and justice is scarce. Also like the case of the women imprisoned in Guanajuato, at least one of those accused claims that she is being prosecuted for suffering a spontaneous miscarriage.