How Mexican activists are providing Texans with medication abortions

Las Libres, formed in 2001, has seen an increase in calls from people based in the U.S.

By Yvonne MarquezJuly 13, 2022 2:51 pm,

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on June 24, a group of Mexican activists – known as Las Libres – that helps people obtain abortions has seen a spike in calls from Texans and others based in the U.S. Las Libres, or the Free Ones, mostly helps people get safe medication abortions.

Dianne Solis, a reporter at the Dallas Morning News covering immigration and social justice issues, joined Texas Standard to share more on how the group is helping Texans.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: Tell us a little bit about Las Libres itself. 

Dianne Solis: It was formed in 2001 in the capital city of Guanajuato, in the state of Guanajuato, by Veronica Cruz and her allies, who were incensed that women and girls who had been victims of rape or incest were having such a difficult time getting abortions. You fast forward and last year, the Mexican Supreme Court decriminalized abortion.

Calls to Las Libres have jumped from 10 each day to about 100 every day. And apparently a lot of those calls are from Texas. Who’s calling, and can you say more about that?

I can talk about it in general terms. They are people who are looking for a solution to end a pregnancy, and they range across all age groups. Many of the people don’t speak Spanish, so they’re not Latin American immigrant women, probably. Las Libres doesn’t keep or obtain names of people, so there isn’t a database for who these people are or what their age groups are. This is just in general terms what I was told by the leader of the group.

Let me let me ask you how that factors into many people seeking what are called medication abortions, using misoprostol and mifepristone. Is this group providing those medications?

They are. And they do so following protocol from the World Health Organization. Some of the other groups that we spoke to also have doctors who work with them. So, it is generally a five-pill regimen that you’ll take: one of one pill, and four of another. In the case of one of these medications, it has been used solely for abortions, and that’s without taking the other drugs. That particular drug is available without a prescription in Mexico.

» FROM NPR: How medication abortion works

So are there any issues, legally speaking, with this organization providing those drugs – I would imagine through the mail? Are they asking people to actually travel into Mexico to obtain these? How are they doing the distribution?

They’re using both methods. Some people are coming across the border. And we’re told that with some of the NGOs in Mexico, that they have stockpiles of medications on the U.S. side, I don’t know where. But the Mexicans feel that they are beyond prosecution, that they’re not doing anything unlawful, because in Mexico, abortions have been decriminalized.

What about Texas officials? Have they turned a spotlight on this organization and what’s happening?

They are looking at the whole process of Mexican NGOs helping U.S.-based women or Texans and other groups that are bringing in medications from India and the Netherlands. And they said that it, quite frankly, is a new frontier, legally, for anti-abortion groups. They do want to go after them somehow for mailing and shipping or bringing in by courier these drugs. They want to hold them accountable, but I’m not quite sure how they do that. One lobbyist I spoke to said that they could technically be extradited, but the likelihood that that would happen in the Biden administration is very, very, very slim.

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