Friday, May 24, 2024

Mexican Organization Helps Women in the U.S. Obtain Abortions

From the headquarters of Marea Verde Chihuahua, located more than 100 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, Marcela Castro and her colleagues assist women in the United States in circumventing recently imposed bans on abortion.

Marea Verde Chihuahua, an organization that has supported reproductive rights in northern Mexico, provides virtual guidance and shipments of abortion pills for women who want to terminate a pregnancy on their own.

This abortion model, developed by Mexican activists, has sparked interest in the U.S. as the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion last year.

“We don’t offer medical attention because we are not doctors,” Castro said. “Part of our work, though, is to remove the stigma toward abortion. Although it is a medical procedure, it does not require hospital measures.”

To safely advise women on self-managed medical abortions, Castro and her colleagues were trained to become “acompañantes” — capable of serving as a guide and partner, whether in person or from long distances.

Among these “acompañantes” are lawyers, psychologists, and other professionals who have studied national abortion guidelines and know protocols established by the World Health Organization. Over the years, they have created a nationwide network that has secured abortion access for Mexican and foreign women, whether or not abortion is legal where they live.

“We are ordinary women working for reproductive justice,” Castro said. “We seek what the State has denied us out of prohibition.”

Most women from the U.S. contact Marea Verde Chihuahua through social media or by someone’s referral. After the initial contact, an “acompañante” is assigned to each case. The “acompañante” then evaluates the patient and, in most cases, can provide pills and medication approved by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to terminate the pregnancy.

Medication from the offices or binational networks is usually sent from Mexico or cities in Texas, where packages are delivered in person or through mail services.

Laura Dorado works alongside 20 people in Aborto Seguro Chihuahua, an office a part of the binational network, and says her team handles around 120 abortions per month.

Aborto Seguro Chihuahua usually receives mifepristone pills from Las Libres, an organization in the conservative state of Guanajuato in central Mexico, where abortion is still banned. Las Libres pioneers in training “acompañantes” to provide virtual guidance for self-managed medical abortions in Mexico and, since 2019, in the U.S. as well.

“In January 2022, we had an average of 10 cases every day. When Roe was overturned in June, we had up to a hundred,” Cruz said.

She said the numbers kept rising until they reached 300 requests per day, all from the U.S. The workload was immense for her team of 10 people, so she created new networks to help.

“In one year, we have created more than 20 networks. We are about 200 people helping only the United States,” Cruz said.

NBC News