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“Abortion tourists” from US red states have a new destination: Mexico

The Mexican supreme court decriminalized abortion across the country on Sept. 7

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Will Mexico be a safe haven for US women seeking abortions?
Will Mexico be a safe haven for US women seeking abortions?
Photo: Elijah Nouvelage (Getty Images)

Abortion tourism—traveling from one state to another to access abortion—was quite routine in the US before 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure nationwide. Now the trend is picking back up again. States geographically near ones that banned abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe last June saw sharp increases in the number of procedures performed, according to a recent study from the pro-choice research group Guttmacher Institute.

Reports over the last year suggest some abortion-hoppers are also looking beyond US borders. They’ve been seeking out help in Mexico since as early as July last year. Now, Mexico is set to become an even more attractive destination.


This week, the Mexican supreme court decriminalized decriminalized abortion across the country. The apex court was unequivocal in saying that “the legal system that penalizes abortion in the federal penal code is unconstitutional given it violates the human rights of women and people with the ability to gestate.”

Charted: Change in US abortions


Places of interest: South Carolina, Virginia losing abortion access

South Carolina: The Palmetto State witnessed a 124% increase, or 3,270 more abortions, in the first half of this year versus the same period in 2020. However, the state no longer remains an options. The all-male state South Carolina supreme court upheld a six-week abortion ban last month.

Virginia: The only southern state that hasn’t banned or restricted abortion ye—it’s allowed up to 26 weeks in most cases—is eyeing a 15-week abortion ban.

US women have been getting abortion help from Mexico already

As conservatism grips the US high court and assorted statehouses, networks of activists in Mexico are supporting American women with self-managed abortions. But even before Roe v Wade was overturned, abortion rights were under attack in the US. Texas’ “heartbeat” law capping legal abortions at six weeks, with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, compelled women to seek help across the southern border.


After losing the constitutional right to abortion last year, more US women started turning to Mexico for the abortion pills that, in several states, are teetering on the edge of a ban. They went to unregulated Mexican pharmacies seeking misoprostol and mifepristone—the two-pill combination that was approved by federal regulators two decades ago and used in more than half of all abortions.

Quotable: Getting an abortion anywhere in Mexico is not so simple yet

“People may want to cross into Mexico for abortion care based on this news, but it’s important for people to verify the restrictions in the specific Mexican state they are visiting because each restriction still needs to be legally contested outside of the supreme court”

Nancy Cárdenas Peña, a reproductive justice activist, to the Guardian. The ruling paved the way for federal health facilities nationwide to provide abortion access, but the procedure is still not decriminalized all over.


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