Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Latin American Studies Program


Lindsay Mayka

Second Advisor

Patrice Franko


This thesis seeks to answer the overarching question of how the black market for medical abortion is regulated in Chile. In answering this question, this thesis responds to the two sub questions: why is the Chilean government ineffective at regulating the black market for medical abortion in Chile, and how have non-governmental actors filled this vacuum through informal regulation? Although the Chilean government has one of the highest levels of state capacity in Latin America, it has surprisingly allowed this black market to exist in almost complete impunity. In this thesis, I argue that although the Chilean government has the capacity to regulate this market, that government bureaucrats intentionally choose to ignore the existence of this activity in the efforts of upholding their professional norms and interests; the market leads to decreased abortion-related complications, to a reduction in the maternal mortality rate, and to decreased costs for clinics related to the upkeep of expensive emergency septic units. However, to combat some of the dangers that exist within an unregulated market, NGOs have emerged to create an informal regulation of the black market through three mechanisms: provision of information, exposure, and price reduction. Consequently, this thesis seeks to understand how both the formal and informal regulation by government officials and non-state actors of the black market for Misoprostol in Chile functions, and if these theories can be applied to other cases of illegal activity.


Regulation, Black Markets, Informal, Abortion, Reproductive Health