Sebastian's Point

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Another Lone Star Pro-life Victory:

Texas Passes Law to End Mail-Order Abortions

Mary Castle, J.D.  |  07 October 2021

Last Friday, while speaking at the Texas Values Faith, Family, and Freedom Forum, Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a ceremony to mark the signing into law of S.B. 4. This state law bans mail-order abortions in Texas, which was passed with bipartisan support during the second special legislative session. The law also sets strict requirements on how chemical abortion pills can be obtained. The bill signing was just icing on the cake for a Texas legislative session and subsequent special sessions that have been considered to be the most pro-life sessions for Texas in recent history.

 

Texas already saw success in the regular legislative session with the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act and its continued enforcement a month after going into effect after legal efforts to stop it failed. Additionally, the state legislature also passed HB 1280, known as the Trigger-ban abortion bill that will go into effect after Roe v. Wade is overturned. But, S.B. 4 is not just another pro-life law in the state of Texas passed for the sake of merit. As proved during the pandemic and through other trends in abortion, there has been a dire need to protect preborn babies and especially women from the dangerous abortion drug duo mifepristone and misoprostol.

 

The discussion of mail-order abortion bans and stringent regulations on abortion-inducing drugs had been a topic in the Texas legislature prior to the 2021 session. However, legislation regarding chemical abortion became even more relevant in Texas after the Covid-19 shutdowns that occurred in the spring of 2020. During the statewide government stay at home order in March 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott put limits on what types of medical procedures could be performed by putting a halt to all elective surgeries, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton deemed to include abortions.

 

This temporary ban on abortions, which was upheld by the Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, sent abortion advocates in Texas into a state of panic. Many abortion advocacy organizations told stories of women willing to risk contracting Covid-19 by traveling out of state to receive an abortion during this temporary ban. But, abortion activists pushed for mail-order abortions that could be completed at home since surgical abortion was not allowed. In fact, it could be assumed that there was an increase in chemical abortions during the temporary halt of surgical abortions in Texas. It is also likely that mail-order abortions increased in other parts of the country due to the pandemic. However, the very fact that chemical abortion can be an at-home alternative to a surgical abortion procedure performed in a clinic is part of what makes these types of abortions so dangerous.

 

The recent pandemic is not the first time the pro-life movement has seen such a heavy push for chemical abortions. Covid-19 was just the perfect opportunity to advertise the abortion industry’s movement away from surgical abortions and towards chemical abortions. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that while the overall abortion rate is decreasing, the use of chemical abortion is increasing.[1] And that chemical abortions account for roughly 41 percent of all abortions at eight weeks gestation or less.[2] If that is not concerning enough, The New York Times published an article in September 2019, titled “Why America’s Abortion Rate Might Be Higher Than It Appears."[3] The New York Times journalists claim that a growing number of "invisible" abortions occur across the country where women buy illicit abortion medications on the internet from international sellers.

 

Chemical abortions are often marketed as safe, easy, and effective by the abortion industry; however, these claims can be challenged by fact. The Charlotte Lozier Institute reports that the risk to women’s health from chemical abortion is higher than surgical abortion.[4]  Some of those risks include: more pain and bleeding, possible visualization of the unborn human, and the potential need for surgical completion due to retained pregnancy tissue, excessive bleeding, or failure to kill the unborn child.[5]

 

It is unimaginable, tragic, and sometimes deadly that a woman would have to experience excessive bleeding and pain while at home alone. Yet, the abortion industry has pushed for chemical abortion pills to be readily available on college campuses. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that would require public colleges to provide access to medication abortions. The abortion industry has always targeted college-aged women, but to advocate for abortions to happen in the college dorm bathroom is a step too far for many.

 

Thankfully, Texas Congressman Chip Roy, in partnership with Congresswoman Mary Miller(R-IL) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), recently authored a bill in the U.S. Congress that would prohibit federal funds from going to any institution that provides abortion drugs to students.[6] Congressman Roy believes that,

 

A college dorm room is no place to have a do-it-yourself abortion, and the American taxpayer should not be paying for the destruction of innocent human life on college campuses."[7] Evidently, passing legislation to stop the chemical abortion craze is urgent as it creates a danger for young women who are often in a vulnerable state emotionally and physically.

 

Texas was not remiss in passing S.B. 4. The law addresses many of the problems that chemical abortion has created. First, the law successfully bans the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs by courier, delivery, or mail service.[8] This provision will protect women from ordering dangerous chemical abortion drugs from the internet or through telemedicine. Secondly, the law enlists several criteria for a physician to complete before administering chemical abortion drugs. The doctor must: 1) examine the pregnant woman in person 2) independently verify that a pregnancy exists 3) document the gestational age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy to determine whether an ectopic pregnancy exists 4) determine a woman's blood type (especially for Rh-negative blood) 5) document treatment for Rh-negative blood and 6) ensure that abortion-inducing drugs are not given to a woman who is past 49 days of gestational age.[9] Doctors will also be required to follow up with a woman after she consumes the chemical abortion drugs no later than 14 days after administering the drugs to check for extra tissue and assess blood loss that the woman may have experienced.[10] Any non-compliance with the new law will result in criminal penalties. Texas is making it certain that no woman is left to suffer alone after consuming chemical abortion drugs.

 

But this new Texas law is not about allowing chemical abortion to be safer. On the contrary, both authors of the bill and the Texas legislature want to see a complete end to abortion. The new law can effectively be seen as both pro-life and pro-woman by limiting access to chemical abortion drugs and limiting their harm.

 

Perhaps the most compelling story of the dangers of chemical abortion is that of Texas's own, Abby Johnson, as told in the movie Unplanned. The movie details how Abby, feeling alone after ending a toxic relationship, decided to receive a chemical abortion to end her pregnancy at an early stage. In the movie, Abby is shown as experiencing unbearable pain while bleeding profusely in the shower. After she dumps clots of blood in the toilet, she passes out alone on the floor. Many movies are dramatic, but this movie scene is consistent with what Abby describes when telling her story. If her harrowing experience from the drugs is not disturbing enough, the movie reenacts the phone call where the clerk at the abortion business acted indifferent to Abby's experience. No follow-up was required.

 

Stories like Abby's show that even more dark spaces in the abortion industry need to be brought to light. Hopefully, the new law in Texas will protect babies, protect women, and reveal all of the dangers of abortion. Texas was right and timely to pass the “No Mail Order Abortion” law, and it would be right and just for other states to do the same.

 

______________________

[1] Unknown, The Availability and Use of Medication Abortion, The Kaiser Family Foundation (June 16, 2021) https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-availability-and-use-of-medication-abortion/.

[2] Id.

[3]Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz, Why America’s Abortion Rate Might Be Higher Than It Appears, N.Y. Times, (Sept. 20, 2019)  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/upshot/abortion-pills-rising-use.html.

[4] Unknown. CLI Fact Sheet: An Abundance of Neglect: FDA’s Suspension of Medical Management of Abortion Pills, Charlotte Lozier Institute,  https://www.sba-list.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/An-Abundance-of-Neglect_clean.pdf .

[5] Id.

[6] “Reps. Roy and Miller Team Up With Sen. Daines to Defund Colleges That Help Students Perform DIY Abortions" Press Release (July 21, 2021). https://roy.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-roy-and-miller-team-sen-daines-defund-colleges-help-students-perform-diy .

[7] Id.

[8] Texas Health and Safety Code, 171.063 (b-1).

[9] Texas Health and Safety Code, 171.063(c).

[10] Id.

Mary Castle, J.D.

Senior Policy Advisor

Texas Values