In Mexico, abortion law is determined at the state level. First-trimester abortion was decriminalized in Mexico City in 2007, but remains highly restricted in Mexico’s other 31 states. First-trimester abortion is available from both private providers and from the public program, Interrupcion Legal de Embarazo (ILE). The ILE program provides free abortion care to Mexico City residents and sliding-scale fee care to non-residents.
Using data from four high-volume sites in the ILE program, the researchers found that of the 52,391 women included in the study’s sample, 8% presented for care after Mexico City’s legal gestational age limit of 12 weeks. The researchers, including Raffaela Schiavon, who was country director of Ipas Mexico when the study was conducted, found that adolescents were greatly overrepresented among the women presenting late.
There were disparities, too, in educational attainment among the women who presented past the gestational age limit—a lower proportion of those women had greater than a high school education compared to women who presented within the legal gestational age range.
Women who presented past the gestational age limit were also slightly less likely than those who received care to live in Mexico City.
The study’s findings can inform education and advocacy efforts toward a focus on early recognition of pregnancy—especially among adolescents—in order to ensure that women are able to take advantage of legal and free, but time-sensitive, first-trimester abortion in Mexico City.
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