Border Abortions

Black markets


When there's demand for an illicit or tightly regulated good or service, underground suppliers always arise. For women in Texas, with its increasingly restrictive abortion laws, that supply comes in the form of abortifacient drugs flowing across the border from Mexico, where they are available without a prescription.

At an open-air flea market outside McAllen, Texas, Mexican-sourced Cytotec, which is commonly used for treating stomach ulcers, is available for sale, according to a July report by Bloomberg. WebMD cautions that the drug, generically known as misoprostol, "may cause abortion, premature birth, or birth defects." That "side effect" is exactly what purchasers at the flea market have in mind.

"You'd be amazed at how many people, young people, are taking those pills," Erlinda Dasquez, who says she has used the drug herself, told Bloomberg. "I probably know 12 to 20 people who have done this. My cousin just went to the flea market a few months ago."

Not surprisingly, using black-market drugs with instructions handed along a not-so-reliable grapevine has resulted in medical complications, including hemorrhaging. But the demand for terminating pregnancies continues. As stringent new requirements force legal abortion providers to close, the market for illicit alternatives can only grow.