Abortion in Mexico


Abortion in Mexico

A History

Nora E. Jaffary

Engendering Latin America Series

180 pages


October 2024


$25.00 Pre-order

October 2024


$99.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Abortion in Mexico: A History concisely examines the long history of abortion from the early postcontact period through the present day in Mexico by studying the law, criminal and ecclesiastical trials, medical texts, newspapers, and other popular publications.

Nora E. Jaffary draws on courts’ and medical practitioners’ handling of birth termination to advance two central arguments. First, Jaffary contends, the social, legal, and judicial condemnation of abortion should be understood more as an aberration than the norm in Mexico, as legal conditions and long periods of Mexican history indicate that the law, courts, the medical profession, and everyday Mexicans tolerated the practice. Second, the historical framework of abortion differed greatly from its present representation. The language of fetal personhood and the notion of the inherent value of human life were not central elements of the conceptualization of abortion until the late twentieth century. Until then, the regulation of abortion derived exclusively out of concerns for pregnant people themselves, specifically about their embodiment of sexual honor.

In Abortion in Mexico Jaffary presents the first longue durée examination of this history from a variety of locations in Mexico, providing a concise yet comprehensive overview of the practice of abortion and informing readers of just how much the debate has evolved.

Author Bio

Nora E. Jaffary is a professor of history at Concordia University. She is the author of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905 and False Mystics: Deviant Orthodoxy in Colonial Mexico (Nebraska, 2008).


Abortion in Mexico is incredibly well researched and provides an alternative to the widely held view that Mexicans always opposed abortion and a person’s control of their reproductive capacities. It is an important corrective to these views, but it is also the first book to comprehensively study abortion and infanticide in Mexico. With deftness of analysis, Jaffary takes us through the early permissive era in the colonial period and shows how slowly Mexicans joined in a condemnatory discourse around this topic. This is a tour de force.”—Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, author of The Origins of Macho: Men and Masculinity in Colonial Mexico

Abortion in Mexico is a well-written and engaging book and is a significant contribution to legal history, women’s and gender history, and the history of sexuality.”—Nichole Sanders, author of Gender and Welfare in Mexico: The Consolidation of a Postrevolutionary State

Table of Contents

List of Tables
1. 1519–1870
2. 1871–1930
3. 1931–2000

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