Mexico’s Supreme Court has handed down a ruling saying that women can’t be punished for seeking abortions, a decision that is expected to pave the way for the decriminalization of the medical procedure nationwide.

Prior to the ruling, abortion had been illegal in most Mexican states, with limited exceptions for cases of rape and threats to the life of the mother.

Although most Mexicans are Catholics and the country has longstanding ties to the Catholic Church, Mexico officially recognizes church-state separation.

The Sept. 7 vote was unanimous on the 11-member court. The BBC reported, “It is likely to take some time to be applied across the nation, but in effect the decision provides each state with a roadmap towards new legislation. Furthermore, it should mean that women who were jailed for having abortions will be immediately released.”

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