The Fight for Abortion Rights: Accessibility and Mexico
Writer: Mikada Green
Editor: Adelyne Koe
Graphic Designer & Illustrator: Betty Zeng
TW // Abortion, Sexual Assault
The recent U.S. Supreme Court leak about the highest court overturning Roe vs. Wade may come as a shock to some, but the revelation does not come as a surprise for women who have been fighting for bodily autonomy. While it is important to note that the leaked draft stating the overturning of the amendment may not be entirely accurate, it is a possible outcome as there is a 6-3 conservative majority in the court. This policy change will lead to an influx of not only unsafe abortions, but may also lead to travel to bordering countries as an alternative.
Black people, people in their twenties, and those living in poverty will be disproportionately impacted by these bans in states like Texas and Florida, where abortion rights are already being infringed on. Often, individuals seeking pregnancy termination fit into more than one of these demographics, creating a system of intersectional oppression. For example, according to the Guttmacher Institute, Black patients received 28% of abortions nationwide compared to the 39% within the white community. These numbers are shocking once we realize that Black people only comprise about 13% of the United States population. In addition, three-quarters of abortions were sought out by those in the low-income demographic.
Harvard Public Health reports a current Black maternal health crisis, and preventing abortions could cause these numbers to spike. Research at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women is 2.5 times larger than that among non-Hispanic white women. In 2019, for every 100,000 live births, 44 non-Hispanic Black women died of pregnancy-related causes. Considering both the high abortion rates and maternal mortality rates within the Black community, we can see that the overturning of Roe vs. Wade inherently targets impoverished people of color. Restricting access to safe abortions in the past has not shown to lower abortion rates, but will instead lead people elsewhere. In the same Guttmacher Institute report, countries with stricter abortion laws reported that 31% of abortions were performed under what the government deems to be unsafe medical conditions. The data also indicated abortions continued to take place at similar rates in countries with progressive abortion laws.
The idea that one must carry a baby to full term against their will is cruel and could potentially lead those with unwanted pregnancies to take drastic measures. In many cases, such as in Texas, Mexico is a person’s last hope to receive treatment to terminate a pregnancy. The price one must pay to access safe abortions is incomparable to the emotional trauma of a nonconsensual pregnancy. For years, the Catholic church has significantly influenced political decisions in many Latin American countries, only permitting abortions in specific instances such as rape, or to save the pregnant person’s life. Some, like Nicaragua, prohibit abortions in all situations. However, with increased education, urban development, and contraceptive use, many Latin American countries are becoming more liberal in their ideologies. In 2007, when the legalization of abortions first took place, the city governor, Marcelo Ebrard, supported these liberal decisions. The overall disapproval of abortions may not be erased, but feminists in Mexico believe the country is moving in the right direction.
With the Mexican Supreme Court officially ruling to decriminalize elective abortions in late 2021, many Americans in restrictive states may risk the travel for the expensive procedure, even if they can barely afford it. Feminist groups in Mexico have been working to assist in the fight against Texas bans, exporting a type of abortion pill called misoprostol by ferry or mail. There is often no prescription required to obtain the medication; misoprostol is mainly prescribed to treat ulcers, but people have discovered the drug is also an effective abortion pill. Feminist groups can get 28 misoprostol pills for $30, a stark contrast to the steep $300-$700 one may expect to pay for an abortion with medical professionals in the United States. Planned Parenthood, a healthcare provider in the United States known to provide sexual health services, prescribes the same drug, but rather than the single pill, a drug called mifepristone is administered first.
With access becoming more restrictive, there is anticipation for a surge in demand for abortion care in Mexico. The increased demand calls for a more structured supply chain and means of transport. This form of transportation of abortion pills is challenging for governments to monitor and ban distribution. Some U.S. states already have bans implemented that prohibit the shipment of abortion pills via mail and require the medications to be administered by medical professionals in person–yet another way of making legal procedures inaccessible to many.
It is frightening to see the regression of the United States as countries historically known to be conservative take a more progressive approach to make abortions affordable and accessible. The possible overturning of Roe vs. Wade is discouraging for abortion rights activists in restrictive countries as many have modelled their legalizing methods after the historic U.S. Supreme Court case. Pro-birth is a more accurate term for the pro-life argument, as both baby and mother receive little assistance from the government after birth to promise a healthy, supported life. Taking away choice in a country with increased maternal mortality rates, poor healthcare, and no paid maternity leave is inhumane. The importance of access to safe and affordable abortions can mean the difference between life and death for many, so we must continue to fight for the bodily autonomy of those most affected.
Resources for Abortion Help: