Adapting to a New Reality: Mexican and RGV Abortion Activists Work to Provide Community Support

Words by Melissa Cortes Santiago

Edited by Abigail Vela

People outside Congress standing in unison and holding signs advocating for reproductive rights.
Members of Frontera Fund, alongside Representative Ayanna Pressley, in D.C., advocating for abortion and reproductive rights. Photo obtained from Frontera Fund’s Instagram page.

It’s been almost two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the right to abortion, which had been upheld for nearly 50 years. This decision shocked and angered people across the country and in our community. 

Around the same time, across the border, Mexican activists were making strides on the reproductive rights front. In 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that abortion was not a crime, and then in 2023, the court ruled that the criminalization of abortion was unconstitutional. These decisions have paved the way for states to begin legalizing the procedure.

These two opposing realities have strengthened the cross-border collaboration between Mexican and American activists. Reproductive justice organizations and community members on both sides of the border began rallying together to provide resources and support to those seeking abortions and reproductive healthcare.

Three people standing around a table engaged in conversation.
Organizing manager of Frontera Fund, Cathy Torres, tabling at an event in San Antonio with Planned Parenthood South Texas. Photo obtained from Frontera Fund’s Instagram Page

“Abortion didn’t suddenly become really hard to get when Roe fell; it has always been difficult to access,” said Cathy Torres, organizing manager at Frontera Fund.


Shortly after the Supreme Court decision, Frontera Fund, the only abortion fund in the Rio Grande Valley, had to pause their services for 10 months. They were finally able to fund abortion care in April 2023. The organization even expanded to providing non-abortion-related reproductive healthcare funding in partnership with
Planned Parent in South Texas.

Additionally, they began to incorporate patient navigation into their helpline by connecting patients to safe resources and lists of clinics that provide abortions out of state.

“There’s people calling us as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, and we’re very candidly sharing resources so we can fund their abortion,” said Torres. Although the fall of Roe has made their jobs significantly harder, Torres acknowledges that the news made more people in the community aware of the problem and more willing to speak out against restrictions.  


“I feel like
I’ve seen a lot of our community become very vocal about supporting abortion access, wanting to do more to let the world know that organizations like ours exist,” she said. The events of the last two years have made it clear to Torres that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to rely on the courts and government to protect some of our most imperative rights. 


“We have a lot to learn from Latin American activists who live and breathe a truly community-centered approach,” she noted. 

Across the border, where abortion has long been contested, activists who provide abortion pills and resources have had to be creative to avoid persecution. Years of work and resilience have made many of these activists the backbone of reproductive rights infrastructure in many states. 

Five people are sitting in front of an audience, speaking about reproductive rights.
Sandra Cardona from Necesito Abortar and other reproductive rights activists speak at a conference in Mexico. Photo obtained from Necesito Abortar’s Facebook page.

Sandra Cardona, founder of Red Necesito Abortar in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, is one of the people who fills the void due to the lack of abortion centers on both sides of the border. 

 

The organization provides abortion pills to people seeking medical abortions as well as an acompañante, companion, to offer support and guidance. Cardona and her partner have set up an aborteria in their home to welcome those who do not have a safe space to conduct their abortions. 

 

“Queremos que sepan que es algo seguro que se pueda hacer desde la comodidad de tu casa, tranquilamente,” [We want them to know that it’s safe and can be done from the comfort of your home, in peace] said Cardona.

 

Cardona shared they have helped over 20,000 people since their organization began in 2016. Most of the people seeking their help were from Mexico or other Latin American countries, but since the fall of Roe, they’ve seen an increase in people from the U.S. seeking help. 

 

From the beginning, one of Cardona’s main goals was normalizing abortion. It’s the reason why her organization’s name is so candid, translating to “I need an abortion.” She believes that making themselves as visible as possible will help the community trust them and begin to see abortion services as a part of everyday life. 

 

“Sí hay mucho estigma, yo no digo que no, pero yo creo que se va rompiendo,” [Yes there’s a lot of stigma, I won’t say there’s not, but I believe that it’s breaking] she said.

 

With the stigma around abortion slowly decreasing and states removing abortion bans, Cardona is hopeful that nationwide legalization will soon happen. However, she notes that regardless of the law, her organization will continue to provide medical abortions because there will always be people who need them and, more importantly, need an acompañante to help guide them. 

 

“Siempre hace falta esa persona que te pueda dar información y con qué compartir tus miedos, tus angustias y tus alegrías,” [There’s always a need for a person who can give you information, with whom you can share your fears, your anguishes and your happiness] said Cardona. 

Mira Más

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