Texans Are Buying Abortion-Inducing Medicines in Mexico

Activists said that if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down abortion rights, more Texans will go to Mexico to buy drugs to terminate pregnancies.

Texans Are Buying Abortion-Inducing Medicines in Mexico
Abortion 'tourism' expected at the border. Photo by charlesdeluvio / Unsplash

If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down constitutional protections for abortion, more Texas residents will go to Mexico to purchase abortion-inducing drugs, reproductive rights advocates told The Texas Tribune.

Texans are used to going to pharmacies in Mexico to buy cheap drugs, and given the restriction on abortion in this state, implemented in 2021, they are now also looking for drugs to terminate pregnancies. "If legal protection for abortion in the United States ends, more Texans will be able to go to Mexico in search of medicines," warned the U.S. media.

Even a year before Texas implemented a very restrictive abortion law, that is, in 2021, women were already crossing into Mexico to buy misoprostol to terminate their pregnancies, because this state regulates this drug more strictly than federal regulations.

In Texas, this drug can only be prescribed by a physician during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The generic version of the drug costs about $20, while the patent version costs more than $140. The drug is 80 to 95 percent effective in terminating pregnancies and in the United States is approved by the FDA to be used in conjunction with mifepristone to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks.

U.S. regulators have approved the regimen for these drugs only when used together. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the World Health Organization support the use of misoprostol alone if patients cannot obtain mifepristone. Studies show that misoprostol is generally safe and effective in early pregnancy termination.

In October 2020, a year before Texas implemented the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., and 18 months before a Supreme Court draft was leaked revealing its plans to overturn the so-called "Roe v. Wade" law legalizing abortion, Maria became pregnant as a 17-year-old high school student. Even then, the young woman had few options for a legal abortion.

The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, where she lives, has only one abortion clinic, and Maria had to obtain parental consent, and raising the money to pay for an abortion seemed nearly impossible. The young woman told The Texas Tribune that crossing into Mexico for pills would be easier than getting a legal abortion in Texas.

"Being a mom wasn't something I was prepared for and it wasn't something I was willing to do. It wasn't an option for me," so she felt lucky to have been close to the border when she needed it, she said.

And while some Texans have the option of leaving the state for a legal abortion, it is not a possibility for the many undocumented immigrants in the region, said Nancy Cardenas Peña, Texas director of policy and advocacy for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

Noemi Pratt, with the group South Texans for Reproductive Justice, recounted the recent case of a 26-year-old woman charged with murder for having an abortion in Starr County. Although the charge was dropped, she warns that there are new limitations on abortion.