My Terrifying Experience with Latin America's Abortion Laws

When the bleeding started, my first thought was—go to the doctor.

Six weeks pregnant, I was still recovering from the upheaval of moving to Mexico to care for my sick mother, while juggling a nine-year-old daughter and work.

Then one morning, I woke up to blood soaking through my pajamas—a flow that stopped and started all day. Cramps left me rolled into a ball on the couch, dizzy and exhausted. Only prayers kept my fear from spiraling into panic. I knew from having a miscarriage years before that if the bleeding stopped again, I might need an emergency medical abortion.

But as I packed my bag to head to the hospital, Aracely*, my mother's caretaker, stopped me.

“You can't just go to the doctor here,” she warned. “They might say you made yourself bleed. They might even arrest you. And if something is wrong, they won't think about your health, only saving the pregnancy.”

¿Que? Having lived in the U.S. all my life, that seemed impossible.