MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Mexico's southwestern state of Guerrero voted on Tuesday to allow abortions, making it the ninth of the country's 32 federal entities where women can legally end pregnancies amid a recent wave of loosening restrictions around the procedure.
The approved measure, which strips punishment of one to three years of jail time from the penal code, passed with 30 votes in favor and 13 against.
Legal abortions first became a reality in the capital of Mexico City 15 years ago. Oaxaca state followed in decriminalizing abortion in 2019, with other states following suit in the last two years.
The Supreme Court also showed support for allowing abortions in a September ruling over a case in the northern state of Coahuila, which deemed penalizing abortion unconstitutional nationwide.
Still, abortion rights activists have pushed for states to re-write their laws to remove sanctions and ensure women can freely seek abortions.
The new Guerrero law still imposes jail time for anyone who helps a woman abort after 12 weeks, such as healthcare workers.
The drive to provide stronger safeguards for women seeking to end their pregnancies has picked up steam in Mexico alongside a feminist movement that has pressed for an end to the country's high rate of violence against women.
During Tuesday's Congress session in Guerrero, lawmakers made pleas for and against the reform.
Lawmaker Beatriz Mojica said she supported the bill, which she introduced along with fellow lawmakers from the ruling MORENA party, because it upheld women's rights even though she is personally against abortion.
"As a legislator, I can't judge a single woman for the decision she makes. Women are free to make their own decisions," she said.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)