Texas restricts medical abortion, escalates war on reproductive rights
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Less than a month after the six-week Texas abortion ban went into effect in September, Gov. Greg Abbott (right) quietly signed another anti-choice bill that restricts the access to medical abortion. The restriction became law on Thursday, largely cutting Texans’ little access to abortion care.
The new law restricts abortion drugs by prohibiting doctors from prescribing the abortion pill after seven weeks of pregnancy, three weeks younger than the 10-week limit set by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The law also makes it a crime for doctors to send abortion pills to a patient by mail, delivery or courier, specifically requiring that doctors do an “in person” examination before performing a medical abortion in person. Punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of $ 10,000, the law only applies to doctors, not pregnant women.
“It’s been three months since Texas imposed a near-total ban on abortion procedures and now lawmakers are coming after the choice again in restricting medical abortion, ignoring the FDA and medical evidence for its safety and health. efficiency, ”said Donna, state representative for Texas. Howard (D). “This double will deprive the Texans of the ability to make their own health decisions.”
Parts of the law are redundant, given the six-week ban, and are likely in place in case the law is closed by the Supreme Court. Other sections, however, are poised to have a major impact on Texans seeking early pregnancy abortion care. Just over half of abortions in Texas were medical abortions before the six-week ban. Even with the six-week ban in place, medical abortion likely accounts for a large number of abortions in the state.
Nationwide, medical abortion is the most common method of abortion for people who are 10 weeks or less pregnant, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights. Medications can also be much cheaper: Abortion pills can cost as little as $ 110 in the mail, compared to at least $ 300 for surgery.
“This double will deprive the Texans of the ability to make their own health decisions.”
– Texas State Representative Donna Howard (D)
One of the reasons that abortion pills are so widely used is that they make it easier to access care, especially when people can get it by mail. It is a much more flexible option for people who cannot travel to access care.
“Time is of the essence,” said Dyana Limon-Mercardo, president of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “A lot of people live paycheck to paycheque, they work in demanding jobs where they may not have paid time off or may have irregular hours. [It’s helpful for] people who already have children need to be in an environment where they know they have child care available, or they can begin this process at home when their children are already asleep. Many people choose medical abortion because they are able to determine the time and place of their abortion. “
Medical abortion is also extremely safe. The likelihood of complications from a medical abortion procedure is less than 1% when the drug is obtained through telemedicine or in person, depending on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Texas law, however, inaccurately portrayed two abortion drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, as being associated with “significant medical complications”, such as “uterine bleeding” and “pelvic inflammatory disease”. According to leading research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, when mifepristone and misoprostol are combined, the drugs are finished. 95% effective and safer than Tylenol.
“Medical abortion is so safe and complications are so rare that there is absolutely no justification for this law,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute.
Access to abortion care in Texas was already catastrophic before December 2. deeply harmful effects on people seeking abortions in Texas. Many are leaving the state of being treated, while other less privileged people are forced to give birth. Abortion clinics in neighboring states like Oklahoma are overwhelmed by Texas patients, leaving clinic staff overworked as they try to cope with the influx of new patients.
“Between the six-week ban and the restriction on medical abortion, Texas limited access to abortion to the bare minimum,” Nash said. “Even just making it known that an abortion is available can be difficult, let alone knowing how to access it. It became considerably more difficult to access care after September 1 with the six-week ban, and now it will be even more difficult with the medical abortion restrictions in place.
The restriction on medical abortion in Texas is part of a continuing flurry of attacks on the right to abortion. Indiana, Montana and Oklahoma all passed similar restrictions on medical abortion this year (although Montana and Oklahoma laws are not currently in effect and are both blocked in lower courts. ). Additionally, the Supreme Court heard oral argument this week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that threat Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that protects a person’s right to choose.
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