Legal abortion is luring more American women to Mexico

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The number of U.S. women who refer to abortion as a reason for their trip to our country increased 42 percent since September 6, when Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruled to decriminalize abortion at the federal level, according to a report by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The border bridges that connect Texas with Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Chihuahua, registered a total of 47 crossings, compared to 19 in the rest of the border. Texas is one of the states in the U.S. that prohibits abortion.

The increase occurs even though the ruling of Mexico’s highest court does not automatically decriminalize abortion in the country since there are still 20 states that punish it in their penal codes.

In an interview with El Sol de México, Ximena Mendoza, lawyer of the Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE), responsible, together with other organizations, for the injunction after which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of decriminalization, explained that the next step is for the highest court to publish in detail the terms of the effects that were granted so that, afterward, the district court, which will be in charge of verifying compliance, notifies the Congress and the Executive. Until then it will go into effect and federal health care providers, i.e. public health care institutions such as IMSS and ISSSTE, will be obliged to perform terminations of pregnancy throughout the country.

The process for this to begin to happen will still take between two and three months, estimates Mendoza.

The activist considered that the increase in the number of Americans coming to Mexico for abortions is to be expected due to the worldwide dissemination of the Court’s decision, but above all, as a consequence of the setbacks of the last few years in the United States.

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision – a 1973 ruling that found that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to terminate her pregnancy without excessive government restrictions – which removed federal protection for abortion and left it up to the states whether or not to ban it. Since then, 14 states out of 50 have banned it outright.

“Ending this precedent has caused a lot of uncertainty and fear among Americans,” Mendoza said.

She also considered that the Mexican experience has lessons to offer activists in the neighboring country who are now fighting for abortion rights on a state-by-state basis. She said it is vital to build support little by little to achieve long-term political change. “The Court’s decision in Mexico represents more opportunities for women in restrictive areas of the United States,” she added.

For years, U.S. women have turned to support networks in which experts in the “safe abortion at home” procedure have been accompanying Mexico those seeking to terminate their pregnancies through the use of over-the-counter medications such as Misoprostol.

According to Anna, a 34-year-old woman, who has been providing this type of accompaniment for five years in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua -one of the states of the Republic where abortion is still criminalized-, last year alone the organization to which she belongs assisted 192 Americans in the termination of their pregnancies through the safe abortion procedure.

She explained that the assistance consists of offering information on safe abortion with Misoprostol, a drug authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to terminate a pregnancy.

“An accompaniment is the process in which a woman guides another woman to perform an abortion through over-the-counter medication. It is to guide and help the person to obtain access to the medicine, to teach the warning signs, to accompany before, during, and after the process, seeking the physical and mental health of the person who is going through an unwanted pregnancy and has decided not to continue it,” she said.

The WHO states on its website that Misoprostol is a drug that does not require a prescription for its purchase in Mexico. This is not the case for most of the states that make up the American Union, where its prescription is completely under federal regulations and can only be prescribed by a doctor during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Anna says that since the SCJN’s decision, she has received twice as many – about twelve – requests for accompaniment and has even been asked for information on how to obtain an abortion in Mexico.

From 2007 to date, 12 states have decriminalized abortion in Mexico, 10 by approval of their local congresses and two by resolutions of the SCJN.

Mexico City was the first state to decriminalize abortion on April 24, 2007, 12 years later Oaxaca did so on September 25, 2019, followed by Hidalgo, Veracruz, Baja California, Sinaloa, Colima, Guerrero, Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo, whose Congresses decriminalized the termination of pregnancy. Coahuila, in 2021, and Aguascalientes, in 2023, were bound by the Court.

Source: OEM

The Mexico City Post