La Articulación Interestatal Por el Derecho a Decidir de las Mexicanas
In April 2007, Mexico City passed a law legalizing abortion within 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court upheld the law in August 2008, ruling that it did not violate the Mexican constitution. Since then, in a massive backlash, 17 Mexican states have passed constitutional reforms defining life from the moment of conception until natural death. As a result of these reforms, many women will be forced into clandestine, unsafe abortion – the fifth leading cause of maternal death in Mexico – and many will likely face criminal charges.
In response to this conservative backlash, an alliance of women’s organizations from Guanajuato, Veracruz, and Michoacán, spearheaded by Global Fund for Women grantee partner Las Libres, established the Articulación Interestatal Por el Derecho A Decidir de las Mexicanas (Interstate Articulation for Mexican Women’s Right to Choose). The Articulación brings together individuals, collectives, and organizations from throughout the country in a network for collaborative action to decriminalize and destigmatize abortion, advance a reproductive justice agenda, and secure access to legal abortion with free, safe, quality services for all women in Mexico.
The Articulación focuses on three primary objectives: promoting incremental legal and policy changes; enhancing the quality of and access to legal and safe therapeutic abortion services by expediting procedures in both the legal and health domains; and promoting favorable public opinion around abortion, particularly at the local level. In addition to working at the national level to achieve these goals, the Articulación creates local movements within the states, which enable activism and direct legal action at the state level. In the states where the Articulación is present, women have access to safe abortion without being criminalized, and they have access to adequate legal support in cases where they face criminal charges. In one year, these networks facilitated potentially life-saving access to abortion for more than 100 women.
Through its strong network and flexible program model, the Articulación enables its members from different states to share best practices and replicate successful strategies in advancing reproductive justice. For example, on September 7, 2010, seven women were freed from prison in Guanajuato, Mexico. These women, all of them poor and with little education, had been sentenced for up to 30 years in prison on homicide charges for terminating their pregnancies. One of these women had had a miscarriage, two others aborted due to rape, and the rest had aborted accidental pregnancies. The women had already served between three and eight years in prison at the time of their release. Due to the effective legal strategies of Las Libres – a founding member organization of the Articulación and a Global Fund grantee partner – Guanajuato’s court authorities reduced the sentences and released the seven women.
In light of the new reforms being passed throughout Mexico, however, many more women are at risk of finding themselves in similar circumstances. Within this adverse political context, Articulación's collaborative and flexible approach is essential to replicating Las Libres’ success in other states. In this way, the Articulación’s program model allows its members to learn from the successes and challenges of other members’ efforts. Additionally, this model allows for an exponential expansion of contacts and relationships; more efficient use of human, economic, and intellectual resources; and an expanded geographic range in which to create change. It also allows for greater flexibility and versatility amidst changing circumstances, as well as greater ability to present a coordinated but diversified public presence, bringing different voices and arguments to key spaces. As a result, the Articulación’s member groups can achieve more than they would as individual organizations.
Building a Movement
Through the Articulación’s ongoing efforts, more women throughout Mexico have been inspired to join the fight for decriminalization of abortion. The Articulación is bringing abortion into the public debate, raising awareness of the fact that women – and in particular, women of limited economic means – are going to prison in the name of the right to life. Veronica Cruz, founding member of the Articulación, explains, “Women who have had access to safe abortion or legal defense for their abortions have joined the political movement for decriminalization.” She adds, “The success we see...is that women can testify that abortion is no longer a taboo, a crime, a sin, a stigma, and women are capable of not judging other women.” Ultimately, the Articulación aims to create a broad shift in consciousness, culture, and policy, to completely decriminalize and de-stigmatize abortion in Mexico. Through collective action, the Articulación is creating a ripple effect of women who are empowered to speak with their partners, families, and communities, until society at large recognizes abortion as a human right for all women.
In partnership with the Global Fund for Women, the Articulación is connected to an even broader network of allies committed to advancing reproductive justice. At the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentro in 2009, the Global Fund for Women convened a meeting with members of the Articulación in Mexico and members of the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion in Argentina, to share best practices and learn from one another. As a result of this meeting, the Articulación implemented strategies that the National Campaign had found successful in creating and sustaining an impactful national network to advance reproductive justice in Argentina. This connection, made through the Global Fund for Women network, was critical for the Articulación’s organizational strengthening and growth. Moreover, with Global Fund for Women support, the Articulación’s member organizations have participated in regional and international convenings with other women’s rights activists, such as the AWID Forum, where they have continued to share best practices and develop strategies with women working to advance reproductive justice in other countries and contexts.
Since 2010, the Global Fund has invested $70,000 in grant support for the Articulación. Over the past 12 years, the Global Fund has invested over $1 million in support to women’s organizations in Mexico to advance sexual and reproductive rights. Our support to initiatives such as the National Pro-Choice Alliance, comprised of Global Fund grantee partners GIRE, Equidad de Género and Catholics for the Right to Choose, has contributed enormously to achievements such as the legalization of abortion in Mexico City.
Our support to the Articulación complements this work by strengthening efforts to advance reproductive justice in the Mexican states. Founding Member Veronica Cruz makes the case for increased funding to the states, noting, “It is necessary to diversify and redistribute resources, to not centralize the resources [for SRHR] in Mexico. The funds are centralized in organizations in Mexico City, but there are no resources redistributed in the states.” This reinforces the importance of supporting groups outside of capital cities that may not have as much access to funding sources, but who are addressing critical issues effectively and creatively. In light of the increasingly conservative climate against women’s rights and women’s bodily integrity in Latin America and the Caribbean, and particularly in Mexico, the Global Fund for Women recognizes the critical need to continue strengthening women’s social movements and their ability to resist the consequences of the conservative backlash, while pushing for a more progressive reproductive justice agenda.