Gov. Abbott signs bill into law that limits medication abortion usage

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Friday that will limit the use of abortion medication after seven weeks and prohibit sending such pills through the mail altogether.

Republicans argue SB4 will protect women’s health, saying in-person ultrasounds will ensure doctors can monitor patients better.

“And even as we can all understand the imperative of the right to life, there are still millions of children who lose their lives to abortion every year,” Abbott said at the bill signing Friday. “We as Texans will not accept that, which is why we as Texans stepped up and passed multiple laws this session to prevent innocent and unborn life.”

But Democrats think the seven-week ban will push women who want an abortion to seek it elsewhere without supervision.

“This bill will push some women to seek black market options to receive the medication. And as always, our choice is not between abortion and no abortion. It’s between safe legal abortion or unsafe illegal abortion,” Rep. Zwiener said in July.

Medication abortion was first approved by the FDA in 2000. This method accounted for 39% of all abortions in the United States in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization.

“Earlier this year the Biden administration temporarily lifted restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, allowing them to be delivered by mail during the pandemic,” Abbott said Friday. “There’s an effort to make it permanent. We will not allow it in the Lone Star State. That’s why I’m about to sign a law that bans mail-ordered abortions in Texas.”

While SB4 will no longer allow physicians to send abortion-inducing pills to Texas women through the mail, the Guttmacher Institute says “decades of clinical evidence suggest that medication abortion can even be provided without laboratory tests or ultrasound prior to administration, opening up further possibilities for service delivery.”

This legislation will join another anti-abortion law that went into effect on Sept. 1. SB8 bans all surgical abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which can be as early as six weeks — a time when most people do not know they are pregnant. 

Texas abortion providers and reproductive rights advocates filed a request Thursday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their challenge to the state’s near-abortion ban before it heads to a federal appellate court. It is unknown whether the high court will decline or grant their request.

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