Since its founding in 2000, the Mexico-based abortion activist group Las Libres has sought to undermine the country’s traditionally strong pro-life protections by seeking ways, often directly violating state and federal law, to make abortion on demand more available within the country.
The group began when one of the founders, Veronica Cruz, began knocking on doors of OBGYNs and asking them to commit illegal abortions. For Cruz, “abortion is the most important claim of feminism… the fact that abortion is a crime rather than a human right [reflects how] this system does not want women to be free.”
According to the NYT article, since the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act in September, Las Libres has been conspiring with abortion activists in Texas to find ways to provide illegal abortion pills to women. The group intends to convene in January to work out a strategy for smuggling illicit abortion pills into Texas. According to Cruz, the group’s members are knowingly violating the law and willing to risk jail time. “If that’s the only way that people will become conscious that what the government is doing is a major violation of human rights,” she said according to the NYT, “then yes.”
Under Texas state law, abortion pills must be prescribed by a doctor after an in-person examination and, according to the pill’s original protocol, requires the patient take the first pill in office. Distribution of the pill is also limited to the first seven weeks of pregnancy in the state of Texas. Research has shown the abortion pill to be four times more dangerous than surgical abortion in the first trimester, made more complicated when women self-administer the pills without a medical exam. Although the ACOG now claims that most patients know how far along they are, abortion activists have long claimed that early restrictions on abortions occur before most women even know they’re pregnant.
“We aren’t afraid,” said Cruz, according to the NYT. “We are willing to face criminalization, because women’s lives matter more than their law.” The NYT article also suggested that the group was open to transporting women across international borders for the purposes of obtaining illegal abortions.
Mexico’s abortion record is fraught with alarming statistics and complications. According to Guttmacher, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, 36% (or more than one third) of Mexican women experience complications from induced abortion. When it comes to the pill, which makes up roughly one third of Mexican abortions, around 39% of those abortions lead to complications. Guttmacher speculates that this “likely reflects providers’ and women’s inadequate knowledge and use of misoprostol.”
Las Libres prides itself on its peer-to-peer abortion pill sharing, only exacerbating the problem of correct use and knowledge. According to the NYT, the network started with “a woman who could afford to buy the medication [who] would keep the pills left over after her procedure, then pass the box on to the next woman who needed it, while coaching her through the process.” And even now, volunteers “have boxes of the drugs, which they buy or receive as donations, strewn everywhere — in their cars, their homes, even their pockets.” The peer-to-peer information sharing about how to take the pills still appears to be the group’s standard procedure.
Last week, the Biden-Harris administration FDA made permanent a measure that had been in place under the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for distribution of the abortion pill by mail, as Live Action News reported. Previously, the FDA had placed the abortion pill under the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation System (REMS), a protocol designed to protect patients from “certain medications with serious safety concerns.”
According to a report, abortion pill-related ER visits increased 500% from 2002 to 2015.
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