Seven women convicted of infanticide have been released by the governor of the state of Guanajuato and a state judge following a massive campaign by pro-abortion groups, who have turned their cases into a cause célèbre in the national media.
Governor Juan Manuel Oliva has also announced a legislative initiative to reduce the criminal penalty for infanticide from 25 to 35 years in prison, to three to eight years.
The decision to release the women follows weeks of pressure by pro-abortion organizations, members of the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and the national media, which repeatedly claimed the women were really imprisoned for “abortion.”
The PRD’s Secretary General, Hortensia Aragón Castillo, says she is not satisfied with the legal reforms proposed by Governor Oliva, claiming that it “evades the central issue at the core, which is the criminalization of the right of women to decide about their bodies.”
Investigations by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, as well as the state’s human rights office commissioner, produced no evidence that the women had been convicted for abortions. However, pro-abortion forces have continued to insist that all seven women imprisoned for “murder in reason of parentage,” the legal term in Mexico for infanticide, are innocent of the charge.
Among those to be released is María Araceli Camargo, 26, convicted of infanticide after giving birth to her child and leaving it to die in a rural latrine. According to the La Jornada newspaper, Camargo claimed that she thought she had diarrhea, but instead gave birth to an infant 53 centimeters in length, an average size for a newborn, while in the latrine.
La Jornada reports that Camargo cut the umbilical cord and left her baby, then went to her family claiming that she felt unwell. Doctors at the hospital where she was taken immediately recognized that she had given birth, and alerted prosecutors, who found the child at the bottom of the latrine, with fecal matter in its respiratory system. Prosecutors concluded following an autopsy that the baby was born healthy, with a full life expectancy. Camargo was sentenced to 26 years in prison, but will now be released after serving 8.
Alma Yareli, recently released by state judge Miguel Valdez Reyes, was convicted of infanticide after giving birth to her third trimester baby, which she had conceived in an adulterous affair. Yareli claimed that she gave birth to the baby prematurely in a bathtub, where it was stillborn, and said she was motivated by fear when she placed it into a bag and left it on a street, according to the Guanajuato newspaper Correo. Prosecutors concluded that Yareli’s child died of hypothermia following the birth.
Fourteen other women are currently being prosecuted for similar crimes, according to local media reports, although it is unclear what will now become of their cases.