A setback? Supreme Court could endorse that doctors deny performing an abortion

Mexico.- The conscientious objection of medical personnel is the new initiative through which it seeks not perform an abortion on a woman, and that is being discussed in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.

In simple words, it is a bill that allows doctors and nurses to deny health services to a woman who wants to interrupt her pregnancy, if there are religious objections from the health person.

That is, if the doctor or nurse who attends the patient is a firm believer in a religion that rejects abortion, it is your right not to perform the medical procedure.

The ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation They had fun for and against this project, because on the one hand, it denies the right to abortion that women have, in addition to allowing health personnel to behave according to their religious beliefs, respecting their religious freedom.

The regulation of conscientious objection of medical personnel, legislated in Mexico since 2018, and now under discussion in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation may not obtain enough votes to issue a ruling on the matter.

Five Ministers affirmed that Article 10 Bis of the General Health Law should be annulled, because it poorly regulates conscientious objection, while three announced their vote in favor of a project that leaves the rule in force, but adding several clarifications and restrictions set by the Court itself.

The ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation will resume the case on September 20, since this week it will no longer have sessions, since September 14 and 16 are non-working for the Federal Judicial Branch.

It will be necessary for the three remaining Ministers to add their votes to the group in favor of invalidity, for the Court to issue a judgment in that sense, or for the three to support the project of Minister Luis María Aguilar, for there to be a ruling in favor of the validity.

A majority of six or seven Ministers to be invalidated will result in the dismissal of the case and there will be no ruling from the Court. The opinions of Ministers Jorge Pardo, Alberto Pérez Dayán and Yasmín Esquivel, the last two absent from today’s session, are pending.

Article 10 Bis of the LGS was challenged by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and establishes:

“The medical and nursing personnel that are part of the National Health System, may exercise conscientious objection and excuse themselves from participating in the provision of services established by this Law. When the patient’s life is put at risk or it is a medical emergency, conscientious objection may not be invoked, otherwise the cause of professional liability will be incurred “.

Minister Luis María Aguilar proposed to recognize the right to conscientious objection, as part of the freedom of religion and ideology provided by Article 24 of the Magna Carta, an issue on which only President Arturo Zaldívar voted against, considering that It is a right only of legal rank, but not Constitutional.

The split arose from discussing whether Congress poorly regulated this right. Aguilar proposed an interpretation according to which the norm is valid as it is written, but with the following restrictions:

That conscientious objection is individual, not institutional; that the objector physicians and personnel must inform and refer the patient in a timely manner; that hospitals must have non-objectionable personnel, and if they do not have one, they will have to exhaust all possible means to transfer the person to a medical unit that can treat them; and that medical personnel cannot make value judgments or have discriminatory attitudes towards patients.

These restrictions, in fact, are already provided for in the Technical Guidelines for the Care of Safe Abortion, issued by the Ministry of Health (SSA) of the federal Government last June.

But several Ministers rejected that the Court can supply with such breadth what, in their opinion, are deficiencies in the work of Congress, that it should have included these concepts in the law.

President Arturo Zaldívar focused on abortion, which is the procedure that generates the most cases of conscientious objection, and warned that this figure cannot become an obstacle to the exercise of the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy, recognized by the Court in your vote on September 7.

“A disproportionate burden is placed on women who choose to terminate their pregnancy,” Zaldívar said.

Minister Norma Piña affirmed that the norm has “all the deficiencies” attributed to it by the CNDH, since the obligation to guarantee the presence of non-objector doctors was not included, especially in remote or marginalized areas, and patients are exposed to unnecessary suffering in the absence of personnel to attend to them.

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Javier Láynez, for his part, said that the hospital ethics boards are not going to read a court ruling detailing everything that Congress should have clarified in the law. “Congress sidestepped and did not address the rights of patients at all,” he said.

Ministers against the draft conscientious objection

  1. Arturo Zaldivar
  2. Norma Lucia Piña Hernández
  3. Javier Laynez Potisek
  4. José Fernando Franco González Salas
  5. Juan Luis González Alcántara Carrancá

Ministers supporting conscientious objection

  1. Luis Maria Aguilar Morales
  2. Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat
  3. Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena


  1. Jorge Pardo Rebolledo
  2. Yasmín Esquivel Move
  3. Alberto Pérez Dayán

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