Mexico, the Unexpected Ally of U.S. Women in the Fight for Reproductive Rights
Sometimes help comes from unexpected places. In the unabated war against women and gestating people’s reproductive rights in the United States, that unexpected ally is Mexico. And its foot soldiers are called “acompañantes.”
The “acompañantes,” or companions in Spanish, are part of Marea Verde Chihuahua. This organization offers virtual guidance on abortion and ships abortion pills to terminate pregnancies at home.
Marea Verde has supported reproductive rights in northern Mexico since 2018. Although it sits in Chihuahua, 100 miles from the Mexico-US border, it has reached out to help women in the United States.
Last week, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, a Texas federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump, delivered the most significant blow against abortion since the evisceration of Roe vs. Wade last year.
Kacsmaryk issued a preliminary ruling to invalidate the Food and Drug Administration’s (F.D.A) 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. The rule would make it difficult for US patients to access the medication.
In less time than one can turn a page, a Washington state federal judge issued a ruling contradicting Kacsmaryk. The federal judge ordered the F.D.A. not to alter the availability of the drug in the named states.
The Justice Department also filed a notice that it is appealing the Texas ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which could take the case to the Supreme Court.
Mifepristone is the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen used in the first ten weeks of gestation; it helps manage miscarriages and is used in over half of the pregnancy terminations in the US.
Mifepristone remains available, but who knows for how long?
The battle for reproductive rights heats up
In the US, the criminalization of abortion is spreading like a virulent virus. It especially targets states that help women obtain an abortion.
Texas allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion. Idaho has just passed an “abortion trafficking law,” and Tennessee Republicans have made it illegal to mail medical abortion pills.
As this legal battle gains momentum, women and gestating people continue to need access to abortion. But the cavalry isn’t coming from Washington, D.C. It’s coming from Mexico.
Marea Verde offers safe spaces and taps into a network of other organizations throughout Mexico. Its abortion model does not involve travel, assistance to a clinic, or prescriptions.
The companions are central to the model. To effectively advise women on self-managed medical abortions, the “acompañantes” receive training — to serve as a guide and partner, whether in person or from a long distance.
They study national abortion guidelines and protocols established by the World Health Organization. One could even call the abortion doulas.
Mexican activists developed the model out of necessity after decades of facing abortion bans and restrictions in most of Mexico’s 32 states.
“We are ordinary women working for reproductive justice,” Marcela Castro, an “acompañante” at Marea Verde, said in an interview with the Associated Press. One could even call them abortion doulas.
It’s proof that the abortion issue is the great equalizer, and distance is not a deterrent.
It is tearing down walls, bringing together women, and gestating people of different nationalities for a common cause — protecting our reproductive rights.