¡Viva Mexico! Supreme court ends federal abortion ban
+ One year since Mahsa Amini’s death
Welcome to The Wrap, a monthly round-up of news on women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights around the world by the Impact newsletter. This month:
- 🇺🇸 US approves first pill for postpartum depression.
- 🇨🇴 Trans people win the right to parental leave in Colombia.
- 🇵🇱 Poland’s abortion “witch hunt”.
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🎉 VICTORY OF THE MONTH 🎉
MEXICO — Abortion has been decriminalised throughout Mexico after the Supreme Court ruled that ban on the procedure in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional and violates human rights. The case was brought by the feminist organisation GIRE (Information Group for Reproductive Choice). Two years ago, the Supreme Court ordered the northern state of Coahuila to remove penalties for abortion from its criminal code. This meant that a person having an abortion could not be imprisoned anywhere in the country. The new ruling goes a step further, paving the way for patients to terminate a pregnancy of up to 12 weeks in public hospitals without criminal consequences of any kind, while doctors who perform the procedure will also not be criminalised.
Politics and Economics
IRAN — One year after the death of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian parliament has approved a bill increasing the penalties for women who do not wear a hijab. If the law is validated by the Guardian Council, women could be sentenced to between 5 and 10 years in prison for the crime of « not wearing a veil or wearing inappropriate clothing ». Amini died in the custody of Iran’s « morality police » for apparently failing to comply with compulsory hijab laws. Since then, multiple protests have spread across Iran and worldwide under the slogan « Woman, life, freedom », and hundreds of women have defied the Islamic regime by leaving their hair uncovered. Despite a brutal crackdown on protesters which has left at least 500 people dead, the women and girls of Iran continue to resist. On September 16, thousands of people took part in a worldwide rally to support their struggle. Read Nazanin Nour’s essay from September 2022 on Iranian women’s fight for freedom.
AFGHANISTAN — The Taliban regime has prevented at least 60 women who had obtained university scholarships abroad, mainly in Dubai, from leaving the country. The BBC reported that the women were turned away at the Kabul international airport. Women in Afghanistan are not allowed to travel abroad unless they are accompanied by a male escort, either a husband or an immediate male family member, such as a father or brother. Since the Taliban returned to power two years ago, women have been barred from attending high school and universities. In August, they were also banned from going to primary school after the third grade in some regions.
COLOMBIA — Transgender men and non-binary people in Colombia have won the right to 18-weeks of paid parental leave after a ruling by the constitutional court. The country’s labour code only granted maternity leave to cisgender women, excluding gender-diverse people who give birth. For that reason, the Liga de Salud Trans and the Universidad del Norte filed a lawsuit asking the constitutional court to modify the code.
BULGARIA — The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week that Bulgaria is violating the right to private and family life by failing to recognise same-sex couples. This right is enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Bulgaria is the worst-ranked European country in the LGBT+ Equality Index: not only is same-sex marriage not recognised, but also gender reassignment is illegal. The ruling does not oblige the Bulgarian government to legalise same-sex marriage, but it is a step forward, as the state must now create a legal basis for recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.
FINLAND — A law facilitating access to abortion services, passed in October last year, came into force in Finland on September 1. The new legislation no longer requires people to provide a reason for terminating a pregnancy within the first 12 weeks. The law also removes the requirement for a second doctor’s opinion to terminate a pregnancy: from now on a medical examination by a single doctor is sufficient. It is no longer mandatory for the procedure to be carried out in a hospital, and waiting times are expected to be shorter.
POLAND — The Polish government is investigating and prosecuting people who may have facilitated or participated in an abortion procedure, according to Human Rights Watch. Researchers say a number of investigations have been opened against patients seeking medical care for miscarriages or after having legal medication abortions. “This can only be described as a witch hunt,” said Hillary Margolis, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. Meanwhile, Polish scientists have developed a blood test to detect if a person has taken mifepristone or misoprostol pills to induce an abortion. According to The New York Times, a prosecutor’s office in Wroclaw has already used that laboratory test. Poland bans abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the patient’s life. Abortion in cases of foetal abnormalities was banned in January 2021.
UNITED STATES — In August, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral pill to treat postpartum depression. The new drug, known as zuranolone, is administered once a day for two weeks. Relief from symptoms can begin as soon as the third day of treatment, a much faster result than other treatments for the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight people experience symptoms of postpartum depression, which affects mental health, behaviour and a new parents’ relationship with their newborn. Mental disorders are the leading underlying cause of pregnancy-related death (23%) in the United States.
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