Even with Roe v. Wade in place, low-income women struggle to get abortions in Texas

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Cushing knows that for women seeking abortions in the Rio Grande Valley, the McAllen clinic isn't necessarily the first place they turn.

"We're poor in this area, so a lot of us don't think, what's the safest way to do it?" explained a 24-year-old named Lucía who works for a teaching certification program in nearby Edinburg. "Not having insurance, you're scared you're going to have to pay too much."

When she recently became pregnant despite having an intrauterine device, Lucía considered crossing the border to buy abortion medication in Mexico.

The drug misoprostol is sold over the counter there and can legally be brought back to the United States. Prices ranged from $20 to $150 at pharmacies in the border city of Nuevo Progreso late last month. It is effective if used correctly, but pharmacies often provide inaccurate instructions that not only fail to induce an abortion, but can cause bleeding and other complications.

"Jump up and down to expel the embryo," said one pharmacy clerk.

Lucía said that one of her sisters bled excessively last year after taking abortion pills she bought in Mexico. That experience — plus worries about how her IUD could complicate things — ultimately convinced Lucía that the clinic in McAllen was her safest option.


An ultrasound with Cushing late last month showed she was five weeks pregnant.

The clinic could remove her IUD for $50, then provide a medication abortion for $700, which would be covered by the nonprofit National Abortion Federation.

Lucía sobbed as she explained that she would be having an abortion the next day — before the legal window closed. It all felt so rushed.

"If I had a little more time, I wouldn't be crying right now," she said.


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