In-Depth: A Look At Latin America's Harsh Anti-Abortion Laws

But a quick Google search showed Aracely was right: in my state in Mexico, there were at least three documented cases where women had gone to the hospital during miscarriages and ended up being arrested, accused of causing their own bleeding. Here were their names in a report from the Mexican nonprofit El Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE): Paula, Emilia, Regina. One woman had to pay a fine to leave jail. One was later cleared of all charges. The other, I couldn’t tell. 

Not good. Worse would be if I needed an abortion. I knew that if my bleeding became severe but didn’t expel the fetus, or if something else went badly wrong, I would need and want a vacuum procedure to finish what nature was starting. 

But here in Quintana Roo, such a procedure was legal only if I’d been raped, the baby was severely deformed or my life was endangered. Even then, it would be a struggle to get permission: zero abortions had been approved here from 2007 to 2012 for any reason, the GIRE report showed. 

So I stayed home. I sat on the roof, bleeding and worrying. On some other roof in this same heat, on this same night, surely other women were doing the same. Maybe they were teenagers, or women who already had six children, maybe they had been raped, or maybe, like me, they had blood pouring from them and they weren’t sure why. None of us could get help—not here, and not in almost any other country in Latin America, home to some of the world’s harshest abortion laws—thanks in great part to the Catholic Church’s strong political influence.