Great story about the abortion access community in Mexico, which arose while abortion was criminalized there and continues now that it is legal in much of the country, and how it is starting to help women in the US, especially in Texas.
Hi, I’m four weeks pregnant. Eight weeks. Six weeks.
The stream of pings and messages through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp reach Sandra Cardona Alanís at her home in this mountainous region of northern Mexico. She is an acompañante and a founder of Necesito Abortar México, a volunteer network that has helped thousands of people across Mexico access abortion, usually at home, by providing medication and support.
With the constitutional right to abortion in the United States eliminated and numerous states moving swiftly to cut off all access, more and more of the calls to Mexican organizations like Cardona Alanís’ are coming from places like Texas.
People seeking help are reaching not just over a border but across a cultural divide between two countries following distinct paths in providing reproductive health care. As abortion access is being restricted in the United States, it is expanding in Mexico.
Because abortion-inducing medication can be obtained in Mexico without a prescription, networks like the one Cardona Alanís helped found exist alongside the more traditional medical clinics that typify abortion in the United States.
The Necesito Abortar México network is one of several that operate outside the formal medical establishment, offering people the ability to manage their own abortions without visiting a clinic. They usually hear from two or three new people a day. The day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against abortion rights, they heard from 70, half of them calling from the United States.
Even before the full effects of Roe v. Wade’s reversal kick in, Texas is being stitched into the Mexican system as the networks build out their models of helping provide safe abortion at home on an international scale. For months, they’ve been helping train volunteers that will prop up new U.S.-based networks. And they have moved thousands of doses of abortion medication into the United States, creating informal stockpiles to more easily distribute the drugs.
Exporting their model likely will not come easily, though, as the legal landscape continues to shift. Abortion-inducing drugs must be discreetly transported into the United States where they’re available only with a prescription.
Those in the United States involved in building an accompaniment system face potential legal risks both criminally and civilly, especially as Republicans in states like Texas seek to choke off any and all possibility of allowing their residents to access abortion.
Adopting the Mexican model would also require a revolution in thinking about abortion in the U.S., removing the procedure from a system of doctors and clinics and shifting it into homes across states like Texas.
But that autonomy, Cardona Alanís and her partner Vanessa Jiménez Rubalcava often say, changes everything.
“This is an opening for women to realize that they can have abortions in their own homes,” Jiménez Rubalcava said. “When they realize it can be in their hands — and not in the hands of government or the medical system — there’s going to be no stopping them.”
Read the rest, it’s well worth your time. “Acompañamiento” is the collective term for this social movement created by women looking to help each other access safe abortion. Ensuring that misoprostal and mifepristone can get to women who need them for a medication abortion and expanding clinic access in Mexico for Americans who can travel there are a part of it. There’s a ton to admire about all this, but if you think that the border is politicized now, wait until abortion becomes part of that dynamic. It’s just a matter of time before someone claims that part of the justification for the border wall is to keep American women from crossing into Mexico to seek abortion care.