By the end of the year, Texas may have even more restrictions on the possibility of having an abortion after its Republican Gov. Greg Abbott quietly enacted new restrictions banning the mail order sale of abortion drugs for seven weeks. after the onset of pregnancy.
The law prevents providers from prescribing abortion medications more than seven weeks after the onset of pregnancy, instead of the current limit of 10 weeks. It takes effect on December 2.
Abbott signed the law without significant fanfare on Friday and news of the event was not announced until later, sparking outrage from reproductive rights activists who warned the move was another devastating blow to pregnant women in the state.
“Anti-choice politicians in Texas are launching their attacks on abortion access from every angle imaginable,” Adrienne Kimmell, interim president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.
Even before the legislation, known as Senate Bill 4 (SB4), was signed, Texas had some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country due to period requirements. 24 hour wait, ultrasound imaging, physician admission privileges, parental consent of minors.
Another controversial bill, Senate Bill 8 (SB8), was passed by the Texas legislature in May that sought to stop abortions in the state beyond six weeks, often before many people know they are pregnant. This law effectively made abortion in the state nearly impossible and sparked widespread condemnation when the Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block the law.
“The most recent, in terms of prescriptions by correspondence, just adds one more hurdle,” said Mark Jones, professor of political science at Rice University.
Sweeping anti-abortion measures will likely prove popular among Abbott’s Republican base, but may not gain wider approval in Texas. About a third of Texans want an abortion to be stopped entirely, except when the pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant person. But about half of Texans want abortion to stay legal, Jones said.
Will Metcalf, a representative from the State of Texas, tweeted last month, the bill sought to “crack down on unsafe” mail order “abortions and increase reporting requirements for medical complications. The Texas legislature approved SB4 in a special session ending September 2.
Those who “willfully, knowingly or recklessly” break the law by providing drugs by mail will now face criminal penalties – up to $ 10,000 in fines and two years in prison – including outside suppliers. the State, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Although the law also applies to international organizations providing abortion drugs by mail, such a state-level law could prove difficult to enforce.
Shortly after the entry into force of SB8, there were indications that self-administered abortions were on the rise, with a sharp increase in traffic to sites offering abortion drugs by mail.
The Supreme Court did not prevent SB8 from coming into force in Texas, but noted in its decision, the protesters raised “serious questions” about the constitutionality of the law. A doctor who challenged the law, Alan Braid, is now being sued for performing an abortion after six weeks in Texas.
“Now you actually have someone whose rights are being violated who is being sued for doing something that the Supreme Court has ruled to be constitutional and legal,” Jones said. This could prove whether extreme laws like SB8 and SB4 will stand in higher courts, he said.
In the meantime, women’s rights and health organizations are working to provide better access to contraception following severe restrictions imposed by Texas.
Residents of Texas and other states “deserve to have access to the full range of reproductive options, including abortion,” Angela Maske, who works with the #FreeThePill Youth Council. “As we see these growing attacks on access to abortion, it is truly more important than ever to improve access to birth control. “