Stefan Krah added the comment:

It would be possible to translate strings to integers; the infrastructure
is already there for pickling. The decision not to do that was actually
deliberate: Up to now no one has requested string constants for rounding
modes and I *suspect* that there's a performance penalty even though I
didn't measure it.

See Modules/_decimal/_decimal.c:1211 for the code that would need to
be called each time something like this occurs:

  context.rounding = ROUND_UP


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