American women are now traveling to Mexico to obtain abortions as more U.S. states codify restrictions following last year’s Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade.
Since the Court’s decision returning the issue back to the states, there are now 21 states in the U.S. that ban or restrict abortions, with 14 banning the procedure in almost all circumstances.
But, as more states trod through legal challenges and legislative battles to enact abortion bans, America’s neighbor to the south has softened its abortion laws, with Mexico’s Supreme Court recently striking down as “unconstitutional” a previous federal law criminalizing abortion.
As a result, American women — particularly those in border states — are traveling to Mexico in growing numbers for abortion procedures.
“Before, the women from Sonora would go to the United States to access abortions in clinics,” Andrea Sanchez, an abortion-rights activist, told The New York Times, referring to the Mexican state that borders Arizona. “And now the women from the United States come to Mexico.”
Some legal experts have disputed the interpretation that the Mexican Supreme Court actually decriminalized abortion, arguing that the ruling will only have effects “on the plaintiff civil association which” brought the legal challenge and which “has been one of the main beneficiaries of the abortion industry in [Mexico].”
According to the Times investigation, before the ruling, Mexican activists began creating an underground system involving the transportation of abortion pills north and facilitating travel for women south across the border. The activists say longstanding restrictions prepared them for the surge in demand they’re now seeing from the U.S.
“The truth is that years ago, we neither had nor envisioned collaboration with the United States,” said Verónica Cruz, 20, who helped found the reproductive-rights organization Las Libres, which means “the free ones.”
Cruz added, “But faced with the urgency, the increasing restrictions, and having a model, resources like the pills, and as our territory progresses, it became evident that we needed to build international solidarity.”
She says that since Roe was ended, she has assisted about 20,000 women gain access to abortion pills.
Though activists won’t say how they ship pills to the U.S., they have stated that they are coordinating with activists across the border. An organizer who requested anonymity said she conceals abortion pills in electronic accessories, clothing, stuffed animals, and nutritional supplements.