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Americans in border states are traveling to Mexico for abortion medication


Abortion access is changing quickly state by state after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last month. In Texas and other states where abortion is severely restricted, many women seeking care have begun looking to travel, including south of the border. Dianne Solis is a reporter at the Dallas Morning News. She has recently covered the surge of women crossing into Mexico for access to abortion medication, and she joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.

DIANNE SOLIS: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Mexico decriminalized abortion in September 2021. Tell us about that and how U.S. women are apparently crossing the border to try and take advantage of that accessibility.

SOLIS: Well, we talked to several NGOs in Mexico, non-governmental agencies, about what they were seeing. And they said they began to receive a lot more calls from Texans back in December and January. And that was because the laws in Texas became more strict with both medication abortions and abortions in general. And so they were looking for options. There were already feminist groups that were helping Mexican women get the two-pill regimen for medication abortions. And it's cheaper as well.

SIMON: In Mexico than it would be the United States.

SOLIS: That's correct.

SIMON: Are women in the U.S. receiving it by mail, or do they travel to Mexico?

SOLIS: They're doing both. And in Texas, we have a lot of medical tourism or medical commerce. And we have had that for years. And so going to pharmacies or even to a dentist or doctor in a Mexican border city is really very common.

SIMON: But there's this rise in women seeking greater access to abortion and specifically abortion medication. It's perceptible over the past few months.

SOLIS: It is. So I focused a lot on one group called Las Libres, or the Free Ones, in Guanajuato City, in a very conservative region of Mexico that I know quite well. And they now are getting 100 phone calls a day. Previously it had been 10 a day.

SIMON: Oh, mercy. So that's a tenfold increase, isn't it?

SOLIS: That's a tenfold increase. We also heard from a big group in Monterrey, which is only about 2 hours from the Texas border, two and a half hours from the Texas border. They're seeing a big jump as well in phone calls.

SIMON: How legal is this medication in the United States and especially in Texas? Because there's a difference between federal and state laws, aren't there?

SOLIS: Absolutely. We are now faced with a patchwork of laws that deal with abortion pills and abortion in general, a lot like immigration. And in September, Texas passed a law that restricted abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy and made it illegal to, quote, "aid and abet an abortion." And then in December, they clarified and placed new restrictions on medication abortion after six weeks. And now we have the overlay of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

SIMON: What kind of challenges might an American seeking assistance encounter in Mexico?

SOLIS: Language is the biggest one. And I was a bit surprised that the NGOs are using Google Translate app to assist in communicating. And some of these NGOs, they do, of course, have bilingual people.

SIMON: Yeah. I gather you've also talked to anti-abortion advocates in your reporting, and I wonder what they have said.

SOLIS: They said this is a new frontier for them, and they're trying to figure out what they can do to stop abortion pills being sent or given to Texans.

SIMON: Tell us about the women with whom you've been speaking who were doing this kind of work. What kind of apprehensions and concerns do they have right now?

SOLIS: They seem to have great compassion for U.S. women, and their concerns and worries seem to be for women in the U.S., rather for themselves.

SIMON: Dianne Solis covers immigration and social justice at the Dallas Morning News. Thank you so much for being with us.

SOLIS: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF RY COODER SONG, "JESUS AND WOODY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.