During the summer, Cynthia Menchaca received a text message that had become increasingly common for her: A woman residing in Texas revealed that she had escaped from an abusive relationship, only to find out she was pregnant and urgently needed an abortion. This woman had discovered that Ms. Menchaca could provide her with abortion pills from Mexico, where abortion has been decriminalized in certain regions.
However, advocates like Ms. Menchaca argue that the growing demand for abortion care in the United States extends beyond the delivery of medication. They point out that clinics in Tijuana and Mexico City, as well as activists in Hermosillo, a city in northwestern Mexico, have reported an influx of women from Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona crossing the border in search of abortion access.
Over a year following the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, Mexican abortion-rights advocates have observed a surge in American women crossing the border to access abortions. This development highlights the evolving stances of two countries that once held starkly contrasting views on the subject.
For many decades, Mexico and a significant portion of Latin America criminalized abortion with limited exceptions, while in the United States, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion.
In the present day, Mexico's Supreme Court has decriminalized abortion across the nation, making it legally accessible in federal institutions and eliminating federal penalties associated with the procedure. Furthermore, twelve out of Mexico's 32 states have also decriminalized abortion, and activists report renewed momentum to encourage local authorities in the remaining states to follow suit.
In contrast, more than 20 U.S. states currently impose bans or restrictions on abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy or even earlier, with 14 states completely prohibiting the procedure in nearly all circumstances.
Anticipating that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe while the case was still under consideration, Mexican activists began to organize. They established an underground network, dispatching thousands of abortion pills northward and assisting women in traveling south across the border. These activists assert that their experience dealing with longstanding abortion restrictions in Latin America has equipped them to manage the increased demand they are now encountering.
“The truth is that years ago, we neither had nor envisioned collaboration with the United States,” said Verónica Cruz, who 20 years ago helped found the reproductive-rights organization Las Libres, which means “the free ones.”(As reported by New York Times)
In U.S. studies, the combination of these pills has been found to induce a complete abortion in over 99 percent of patients, and it is considered as safe as the traditional abortion procedure administered by a doctor in a clinic. Emerging evidence from other countries also suggests that abortion pills are safe for women even when they do not have access to a doctor for guidance.
Activists who are involved in sending these pills to the United States have chosen not to disclose the specifics of their shipping and delivery methods. However, many of them mentioned that they are collaborating with American activists across the border. One organizer in Mexico, who requested anonymity due to concerns about potential retaliation, mentioned that she hides the medication within electronic accessories, clothing items, stuffed animals, or dietary supplements when sending them to states with restrictive abortion laws.
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that abortion drugs can be delivered via mail, several states have prohibited this method of shipping or have mandated that the drugs must be dispensed by providers in person.
Public health experts point out that there is a lack of dependable national data on abortion in Mexico. Abortion-rights activists clarify that their primary focus is on supplying medication to assist Americans, rather than addressing access issues within Mexico itself.