Abortion seekers in Texas have long crossed the border into Mexico, where misoprostol is sold on the streets and over the counter in pharmacies for a fraction of what a medical abortion costs at a clinic. Texas-based abortion funds like the Frontera Fund, which help people pay for abortion in a state where Medicaid doesn’t cover it, have always known their services were nowhere near enough to meet everyone’s needs. .
“Even with our help, people couldn’t afford to have abortions because it’s expensive and it’s much easier to get the drugs in Mexico and do it yourself,” he said. Zaena Zamora, Executive Director of Frontera Fund.
The potential of misoprostol as a self-directed abortion drug was not discovered by doctors, but by women who needed to terminate pregnancies in countries where abortion was illegal. When it hit the market as a medicine for ulcers in the 1980s with the warning that it could cause miscarriage, it didn’t take long for Brazilian women to realize what it meant. Hundreds of thousands of people used the pills to circumvent Brazil’s abortion ban before the country restricted its sale in 1991. At that time, misoprostol use had spread worldwide.
In Mexico, dozens of support groups guide people through the process of managing their own abortions with misoprostol, as I wrote for The New Republic Last year. The largest and most prominent of these groups, Las Libres, has helped 20,000 women abort themselves since its launch in 2000, about half of them during the pandemic alone, according to founder Verónica Cruz. While Las Libres operates openly, protected by its high profile, more than 3,600 people across Mexico have been reported and 172 people imprisoned for the crime of abortion from 2010 to 2020, according to data from the Mexican advocacy group reproductive rights IWRM, cited for the first time. by Reuters. Many more have been charged with crimes like infanticide or homicide for miscarriages or stillbirths – a possibility that remains, even after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that abortion could no longer be prosecuted as a crime. Cruz said.