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

This is a story I didn’t want to tell. A story that stabs at the back of my heart, where I like to keep hurts hidden. But it’s not only my story. And so, for all the other women who don’t have a chance to tell this, I have to be the one.

The story begins with blood. Blood that didn’t come: I was pregnant. A single mother of one, not much money or stability, a partner I was unsure of back in the U.S.—all this equaled surprise, confusion and worry. We had been careful—how did this happen? I soothed the worry with exercise—and yes, maybe I overdid it. But I’d worked out while I was pregnant with my first daughter and all went well. 

Then one morning came blood that gushed down my legs: something was terribly wrong. If I had been at home in New York, I would have gone straight to the doctor. But because of blood—my duty to help my mother for a year—I was living far away in Quintana Roo, Mexico. And in Mexico you can’t just go to the hospital if you’re pregnant and bleeding. 

Here, as my mom’s caretaker, Aracely,* was quick to tell me, if you come in bleeding, the hospital can accuse you of causing an abortion, and you can even be arrested. “Abortion is illegal here,” she reminded me. “If something is wrong, they will try to save the pregnancy, not you.” 

¿Que? That couldn’t be true. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I needed help.