Mexican Government Agrees to Establish Guidelines for Rape Victims’ Access to Abortion Care
(Updated 3.18.21) Before the Inter American Commission of Human Rights, Mexico admitted responsibility for violating the rights of a 13-year-old rape victim, who was forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape and become a mother after public health officials used a series of obstacles to convince her to withdraw her request for an abortion as a victim of sexual assault.
The agreement led to legal reform in the Mexican state of Baja California that victims of rape receive information about the legal termination of pregnancy with the aim of guaranteeing their free and informed choice. The Settlement also established that the State of Baja California would issue a federal-wide decree calling for the development and implementation of guidelines and procedures to guarantee rape victims’ right to access abortion care, paving the way for legislative change to partially decriminalize abortion in Mexico City.
In 1999, 13-year-old Paulina Ramírez became pregnant after she was raped by an intruder in her home in Mexicali, Mexico. She and her mother denounced the rape at the Prosecutor’s Office where she was not given any medical attention or information on emergency contraception. Soon after discovering that she was pregnant, Paulina sought an abortion. According to state legislation, rape is one of the permissible exceptions to the criminal law on abortion. But public and health officials used a series of obstacles to convince Paulina to withdraw her request for an abortion, forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term and into unwanted motherhood at 13 years old.
In 2002, the Center for Reproductive Rights and two Mexican human rights groups, Alaíde Foppa and Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE), filed a petition on Ramírez’s behalf before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The case alleged violations of her legally guaranteed rights under Mexican law and of her rights to physical and psychological integrity and health, among other violations.
In 2006, a landmark settlement was reached with the Mexican government. The government admitted responsibility and agreed to pay reparations to Paulina and provide her and her son significant compensation for health care and education. The government also agreed to issue a decree regulating guidelines for access to abortion for rape victims.
Plaintiff(s): Paulina Ramírez
Center Attorney(s): Lilian Sepúlveda
Partners: Alaíde Foppa, Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) [Information Group on Reproductive Choice]
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