A new law restricting the use of medical abortion went into effect in Texas on Thursday, The Texas Tribune reports.
The law makes it a felony to provide medication to induce abortion after seven weeks of pregnancy.
The law also makes it a crime to send medication that induces abortion through the mail.
The law restricts the most common way women in Texas get abortions.
Reproductive health advocates are particularly worried about the new law because women tend to turn to medical abortion when legal abortion is restricted. Texas earlier this year passed the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, banning abortion after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant.
“Texas is looking at the ways that people are navigating around restrictions and trying to essentially make that as unsafe and as frightening for people as possible in order to deter them,” Farah Diaz-Tello, senior legal counsel for If/When/How, a reproductive justice legal group, told the Tribune.
Bigger crackdown than earlier ban:
The new law restricts the most common way Texas women have aborted their pregnancies.
State data shows that medical abortion accounted for 53% of all abortions last year.
“Medication abortion really allows people the control to find the setting and the timing that works best for them,” Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, told the Tribune. “There’s all different reasons. You have people who maybe have unfortunately experienced sexual assault, and for them being able to have more control over the procedure ... feels safer to them.”
The Food and Drug Administration says that a pregnant woman can use abortion-inducing medication for up to 70 days after their last menstrual cycle, or about the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Democrats, medical experts knock law:
“The abortion-related mortality rate is lower than that of colonoscopies, plastic surgeries, dental procedures and adult tonsillectomies,” said Democratic state Rep. Donna Howard. “Abortion is much safer than carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth. A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with a less than 0.05% chance of major complications.”
“Medication abortion is so safe and complications are so rare,” said Elizabeth Nash, a principal policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, “that there is absolutely no justification for this law.”