AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) – A new law restricting the use of abortion pills in Texas goes into effect on Thursday.
The law makes it a felony to give the drug after seven weeks of pregnancy, exposing Texas to federal regulations. It also became a crime to send drugs by mail.
Medical abortion is the most common way women in Texas end a pregnancy, according to status data.
These new restrictions reflect growing concern among abortionists about the rise of “self-administered” abortions, in which pregnant women receive the drug from foreign suppliers or internationally, with or without a prescription.
Yes evidence Many women turn to self-administered abortion when legal abortion is restricted. Texans have been unable to access abortion services after about six weeks of pregnancy since September 1, when a controversial new ban went into effect.
“Texas is looking at the ways that people are navigating around the restrictions and trying to make that essentially nil,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, senior legal counsel at If/When/How. as safe and scary for people as possible to stop them.” , a reproductive equity legal group.
Diaz-Tello and other advocates worry that the new criminal penalties might scare pregnant Texans from seeking medical care after self-administered abortions.
What is a medical abortion?
For a medical abortion, the pregnant patient takes two different medications, 24 to 48 hours apart, to terminate the pregnancy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that a pregnant person can take these drugs up to 70 days after their last menstrual period – or approximately during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. period. But the FDA requires the drug to be dispensed directly from a healthcare provider, rather than at a pharmacy.
Even before this new law, Texas had imposed additional restrictions on access to the abortion pill. Texas is one of at least 19 states that restrict patients from going to doctors online to get the abortion pill, according to Kaiser . Family Foundation. Instead, the state requires these drugs to be prescribed directly by a doctor.
In this new law, Texas lists 27 different potential complications from using this two-drug regimen, from incomplete abortions leading to patient death to complications with future pregnancies. .
However, while there are some risks with any medical procedure, many long-term studies have shown that medical abortion is Highly effective in abortion and Some patients experience significant side effects.
According to Texas Department of Health and Human Services data, medical abortion is the most common method of abortion in Texas, accounting for 53% of all abortions in 2020.
Abortion advocates say patients choose medical abortion for a variety of reasons, including that it’s less invasive than a surgical procedure. Patients can also take a second drug, which can cause miscarriage-like symptoms, wherever it’s safest for them.
“Medical abortion really gives people control over finding the context and timing that work best for them,” said Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “There are all sorts of different reasons. You have people who may have unfortunately been sexually assaulted, and letting them have more control over the procedure… feel safer for them. ”
Medical abortion is different from the emergency contraceptive pill, commonly known as the “morning pill”. Used within 72 hours of unprotected sex, emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy. It is not an abortion and is not effective if the patient is already pregnant.
Out-of-state, international providers address restrictions
The new Texas law also stipulates that no one can provide abortion pills “by courier, by mail, or by mail.”
Texas has required that the drug be given by an in-person physician. But this specific provision addresses the growing concern among abortionists that patients are trying to avoid mandatory doctor visits by getting their medications in the mail, especially with limited restrictions on how to use them. New state law bans abortion after about six weeks.
Called “self-administered abortion,” this typically requires ordering abortion pills online, with or without a prescription, from doctors, pharmacies, and other providers out of state or abroad. .
The FDA has tried to crack down on some suppliers, including AidAccess, a group founded in 2018 by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, a European physician. AidAccess provides abortion pills to women in areas with limited access to the procedure.
Gomperts said she will continue to prescribe it to patients in Texas. She told CBS News in September that she believes she has a solid legal basis because it is legal to prescribe this drug where she is located.
John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, said he hopes the new law is just the start of the state’s efforts to rein in online and out-of-state providers.
“We see this as the future of fighting for lives… even after Roe or even after the states can pass very strict life laws,” Seago said. “I don’t think we have all the policy tools on the table to properly regulate this.”
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services provided financial support to The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization funded in part by donations from members members, organizations and corporate sponsors. Financial backers play no part in Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete List them here.
This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and interacts with them – about public policy, politics, government, and issues across the state.
https://www.kxan.com/news/texas/texas-now-bans-medical-abortions-after-seven-weeks-of-pregnancy/ Texas now bans medical abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy