#Americans #seeking #abortion #Mexico
Faced with high medical costs and pressure to reconsider, a California-based single mother reached out to activists across the border in Mexico, who helped her get an abortion.
“We’re supposed to be in a free country, in a state where you can smoke marijuana but abortion is still a little bit taboo,” the 31-year-old said, just before the US Supreme Court ended the state’s right to trial.
The Mexican-born woman believes abortion is now becoming increasingly difficult, even as liberal West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington have vowed to defend abortion rights.
Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the nation’s abortion law gives all 50 states the freedom to ban the procedure, and nearly half are expected to do so in some form.
Even before the verdict, access to a safe abortion in the US was “complicated if you don’t have money,” said the mother of three, who works at a San Diego restaurant.
She first visited two clinics in the United States, but both cost nearly $1,000 for the procedure, which she couldn’t afford.
In one of the religious institutions she was advised not to have an abortion.
“They told me there were other ways I could put it up for adoption. But I was determined, desperate,” she told AFP over the phone, explaining that she got pregnant because birth control failed.
– “Huge Setback” –
Through a friend, the woman learned about Colectiva Bloodys, a Tijuana-based nongovernmental organization south of San Diego that is part of a transnational network that provides free assistance to women in the United States who are unable to access an abortion.
“I was surprised that they helped me from Mexico. I thought we were more liberal here,” she said.
“Everything happened very quickly there. In less than a day, they said, ‘Here is the solution,'” the woman said.
She was sent a combination of drugs that terminates a pregnancy by causing the uterus to contract, a method considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO), mainly for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The NGO was quick to respond to any follow-up questions and “has always been supportive,” she added.
Colectiva Bloodys has been sending these treatments to conservative-run US states like Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia for a number of years and awaits further inquiries following the Supreme Court ruling, said one of its members, Crystal Perez Lira.
“It’s very unfortunate, a big setback, but we will have the capacity and the will” to offer support, Perez Lira said.
Mexican activists have already been surprised by the strong interest shown by women in the United States in the cross-border network, which was launched in January amid barriers to accessing a safe abortion.
“By May we had helped 200 women cross the border and sent 1,000 medicines. We didn’t expect so many,” said Veronica Cruz, founder of Las Libres, one of about 30 groups on the network.
– Financial restrictions –
While the activists expected primarily Latinas to seek their help, they were also approached by non-Spanish speakers.
“Most of them come to us for financial reasons. There, the drug costs about $600, or they have to wait weeks to get it from organizations. We’re giving it for free,” Cruz said.
Some of the women seeking help in Mexico are reluctant to go to a clinic in the United States because they lack the necessary immigration documents.
“We don’t invade their privacy. We do not question their legal status or their nationality,” said Perez Lira.
Contrary to the US ruling, Mexico’s Supreme Court last year declared laws criminalizing abortion unconstitutional, de facto allowing them throughout the conservative Latin American country.
In Mexico City, where abortion was decriminalized in 2007 and free care is available regardless of where you live, the authorities pledged to support women from the United States following the court ruling.
“It is truly backwards, sad and outrageous that in a country where these rights have been recognized, they are going backwards. We will be ready to help,” the city’s health minister, Oliva Lopez Arellano, told AFP.
“We have the capacity for about 25,000 legal terminations a year and now we’re at half that,” she said.
One in 10 of the 247,000 abortions performed in the city over the past 15 years has been for migrants bound for the United States, most of them Central Americans, she added.
In addition to Mexico City, eight other of Mexico’s 32 states have decriminalized abortion.
#Americans #seeking #abortion #Mexico