In light of the favorable US Supreme Court ruling past Monday that struck down provisions of sweeping anti-choice laws in Texas, we were hopeful that Mexico would also fare on the right side of history and rule in favor of women and their health.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court here is dragging its feet. On Wednesday, a small group of the Court rejected the favorable proposed sentence, which argued that denying abortion services for women who have existing health conditions that could be exacerbated by a pregnancy, and result in severe health degeneration and even death is a serious human rights violation, by a vote of 3 to 1, ultimately sending the discussion back to the drawing board. This means that a different justice will draft a proposed sentence and the process begins anew. It does not mean that the case was dismissed or thrown out, but that the discussion, which could take place weeks from now, will be based on a different sentence. It also means that Margarita still has a chance at justice and a positive ruling. It is important to note that all of the justices agreed on the importance of women’s rights, and therefore, we are hopeful that the new proposal will include protections and guarantees for women’s health.
At the same time, and this is a very big at the same time, the Mexican Supreme Court did rule in favor of Antonio and Gaby, effectively setting the stage for change thousands of families across the country. In 2015, GIRE took on the case of Antonio and his wife Gaby, presenting a legal stay against Mexico’s social security agency, the Congress, and the Mexican President, as parties responsible for a series of human rights violations. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and on Wednesday, the Court historically ruled in favor of Antonio and Gaby.
Gaby, Antonio’s partner, left her job with benefits, including access to no-cost social security daycare facilities, after having a baby. Months later, they thought the best daycare option for their seven-month-old son was the same service, but this time via Antonio, as his job entitled him to social security benefits. What they imagined would be a simple administrative procedure and some minor bureaucracy turned into GIRE’s second case on the Supreme Court docket in 2016 and a historic win for Mexican families.
“I was told by several social security daycare facilities that they couldn’t accept my son for daycare because, according to social security regulations, only men who are divorced and have custody or widowers have access,” says Antonio.
Meanwhile, Gaby got a job as a domestic worker, but without social security benefits, and had to request permission to bring her young child to work. It appeared the matter had been resolved, but cleaning a house with a child strapped to her back was not easy and for financial reasons, they could not afford another daycare option.
GIRE argued that childcare and rearing are not exclusive to women and that men must also be entitled to public social security benefits. The Court ruled that the State must ensure, by law, equal conditions for both parents, in an exercise of responsibility, contributing to the full development of the family, always ensuring the best interests of the child.
Antonio and Gaby’s young son will have spent 17 months waiting for the outcome of the case and will only benefit from access to public daycare services for eight months, as the regulation of social security childcare facilities states that four-year-old children must enter pre-school.
Today, thanks to Antonio and Gaby, accompanied by GIRE, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled for equal childrearing responsibilities and opened the door for positive change for thousands of Mexican families.
So, while we are disappointed that the abortion case was postponed, we are heartened by the Court’s recognition of equality between men and women. At GIRE, we will continue working tirelessly with our partners both here in Mexico and abroad – for equality, for women’s rights, and women’s health and lives. Thank you for your ongoing interest in these important issues and for your support of GIRE’s work.