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Border & Immigration

Mexican abortion clinics bracing for influx of Americans

Mexican abortion providers say they expect more American women to cross the border for abortion services — particularly women from border states that are limiting access to abortion like Texas and Arizona. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis has more.

Mexican abortion providers expect to see more Americans crossing the border to seek abortion services after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Luisa Garcia, the director of Profem, one of Mexico’s largest abortion providers, said Americans already make up roughly 25% of all patients at their Tijuana clinic. Profem also has a clinic in Mexicali.

Most of the clinic’s American patients are from California and primarily go to Tijuana because abortion services are more affordable there. However, Garcia said in recent months the clinic has been getting more calls from women in Arizona and Texas.

“We are expanding abortion services here in Mexico,” she said. “It feels strange that in the United States, they are reducing them.”

Mexico, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, had long banned abortions. But now they are legal in eight states for people who are up to 12 weeks pregnant, and longer in cases of rape or to save a patient’s life.

The state of Baja California Norte legalized abortion in October 2021. Three more states — Guerrero, Sonora, and Baja California Norte — have legalized abortion this year.

Yet, despite the liberalized laws, abortion providers in Baja California still face cultural pushback. Garcia said finding landlords willing to rent to an abortion provider has been extremely difficult.

Abortion-rights activists carry flags as they gather to participate in the Queer Liberation march in New York City earlier this week.
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Profem officials were originally told they could have space in the New City Medical Plaza — a new high rise in downtown Tijuana made up of tenants that cater to medical tourism. However, the landlords backed out on their agreement because they did not want to be associated with abortion.

Profem’s current landlord prohibits the clinic from printing the address on any advertising materials. The clinic can only post the neighborhood and tell patients to call a number to get the actual address.

“I think they are afraid that pro-life groups will come and protest outside the building,” Garcia said.

Currently, the Tijuana clinic only offers abortion pills. They are unable to offer surgical abortions because no one has been willing to rent them a medical facility.

Garcia reached out to seven different medical centers advertising a space that can be used for surgeries. However, none of them have responded.

“They technically haven’t said no, but none of them returned my calls,” she said. “There is still a lot of stigma surrounding abortion, even though it is legal.”