Mexico has become a safe haven for some United States residents seeking abortions following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
When the Supreme Court struck down the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which legalized abortion across the country, several states immediately enacted trigger bans on critical procedures. In the months that followed, millions of American women found themselves in limbo. With no reproductive health care available in some states and risks of prosecution for a range of abortion-adjacent activity in others, a clinic in Mexico has been offering assistance to scared women in desperate need of help.
Located just a few steps across the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Mexico, Profem Tijuana has become a safe haven for American women. Speaking to NPR, the clinic’s director Luisa García says she’s noticed a sharp and striking trend. In May, Americans made up 25% of patients receiving abortions. By July, it was 50%. These figures are just estimates since the facility doesn’t require people to provide proof of residency. While official figures aren’t kept on Americans crossing the border, it fits a pattern of evidence that more people are turning to the Southern country for abortions.
“They don’t tell us the truth because they think that we are going to deny them service once they tell us that they’re from the U.S,” García told the publication. “We see people that only speak English, with blue eyes and blond hair. In other words, there’s no way to deny they come from elsewhere,” she added. Regardless of nationality, anyone can get an abortion at Profem. The Mexican clinic is now looking to expand, moving from offering medication abortions in Tijuana to providing the surgical procedure too. As such, the health care provider is scouting for a new clinic.
García believes Mexico has become a popular destination for abortions due to cost, privacy, and convenience. At Profem these services range from around $200 to $400 and are provided up to 12 weeks gestation. The same procedure in the United States typically costs between $600 and $1,000 without insurance, according to the Texas Equal Access Fund. While costs may be reasonable, other factors make the trip more difficult. Patients often struggle with finding child care, the language barrier, and withdrawing Mexican currency.
Fortunately, the clinic tries to make the process as humane as possible in terms of not labeling, asking, or questioning. “The decision is difficult enough,” García told the publication. The Mexico trend comes amid heightened concerns about privacy as several U.S states that have banned abortions enact “bounty hunter” laws that incentivize citizens to report those seeking abortions. Privacy experts also warn that data from period-tracking apps could be used to penalize women seeking or considering the service.
While Mexico decriminalized abortion in 2021, it isn’t legal throughout the whole country. Meanwhile, some U.S courts are still figuring out if abortions will remain legal in their states. At least 14 have implemented near-total bans, with Tennessee, Idaho, and Texas recently enacting even tougher bans. And Texas, from where the clinic receives several patients, no longer houses any abortion facilities. While Profem happily provides the vital service, García believes discretion is both necessary and helpful so patients won’t feel uncomfortable when they arrive. But she hopes they won’t have to remain hidden forever.