The understanding of abortion as a surgical procedure is common – the clinics where it occurs are often the front line of protests. But more than half of pregnancy terminations in the United States are done through pills – a two-step procedure that has become much more common over the past 20 years.
The Guttmacher Institute, which promotes abortion rights, says that in 2021, more than 100 measures will be introduced in states to restrict medical abortions.
But the help for American women seeking abortion pills comes from a place some might find surprising: Mexico.
Sandra Cardona is the founder of “Red Necesito Abortar” in Mexico. She says that over the past few months she has seen a spike in American and immigrant women taking to social media to seek abortions.
Her organization works with other groups in Mexico along the US border to increase access to abortion drugs. She says her organization has worked with networks in the United States
Cardona’s foundation quietly sends FDA-approved abortion pills to at least three groups in the United States who can send the drugs free of charge to women who want them. It also helps women who visit their offices in Mexico.
In 2000, the FDA approved mifepristone in the United States as part of a regimen with misoprostol. Together, they constitute an approach to abortion considered safe and effective for pregnant women.
“It’s not hard to get the drugs here,” Cardona said, citing the treatment at just $30.
In the United States, care starts at nearly $250, according to online providers, and goes up from there.
“I don’t want a single woman to be left without the right to make decisions about her body,” Cardona said.
But the legalities related to their efforts can be dangerous to navigate.
Rafa Kidvai is a member of the Repro Legal Defense Fund, a hotline run by a US-based advocacy group called “If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice”.
“People are more concerned than ever and are contacting us through our Repro Legal helpline,” Kidvai said.
ADI GUAJARDO DE NEWSY: What are the repercussions of getting abortion pills from another country, like Mexico?
RAFA KIDVAI: Right. I think those are exactly the cases where people have been criminalized for self-managing their abortion due to lack of access.
In Texas, mailing abortion medication is a crime, and lawmakers in Kentucky and South Dakota have also passed bans. In 2014, a Pennsylvania mother was charged and jailed for ordering abortion pills online for her teenage daughter.
Punishment for ingesting the pills would become a new front in the battle for abortion rights, an offense that some activists say could be difficult to prove in court.
“There’s no real medical way of knowing if someone has taken abortion drugs orally or had a miscarriage,” Kidvai said.
The gavel may seal the decision on abortion, but Cordona says his organization will keep its doors open.
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