Photos: ACLU\TwitterWashington, DC — Thursday, in Texas, an extreme bill (SB 4) that further restricts access to medication abortion care, a safe and effective option for ending an early pregnancy, became law.
Because 90 days have elapsed since the end of Texas’ special session, SB 4 entered into effect. This comes one day after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges Roe v. Wade.
NARAL Pro-Choice President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement:
“One day after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could spell the end of Roe v. Wade, Texas today dealt yet another blow to reproductive freedom. This crusade against abortion access is a direct attack on the 7 million people in Texas who may need access to abortion care, alongside their families and loved ones. Medication abortion care is safe, effective, and has been FDA-approved for more than 20 years. However, a coordinated disinformation campaign by anti-choice, anti-freedom politicians and activists has again allowed Texas to push care out of reach—particularly for those already marginalized by our healthcare system. There is no end to the cruel measures anti-choice extremists will push in their quest for power and control.”
SB 4 prohibits medication abortion from being sent by courier, delivery, or mail service—specifically requiring the provider to do an examination “in person”—pushing access to care out of reach for many, especially those in rural areas. The bill also undermines access to care by placing extreme restrictions on the timeframe in which a provider can provide medication abortion care to their patient, reducing access to a point in pregnancy before many people even know they are pregnant. SB 4 threatens those who provide medication abortion in violation of the law with jail time.
This bill stands in direct contrast with actions taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA temporarily suspended the in-person dispensing requirement for medication abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently reviewing restrictions on medication abortion care in light of overwhelming evidence about its safety. SB 4 flies in the face of scientific evidence and medical consensus, which indicate that pregnant people can safely and effectively have medication abortion prescribed by their healthcare provider (including via telehealth) and receive their medications in the way that makes the most sense for them, in consultation with their provider—whether that is at a health center, their local pharmacy, or delivered to their home.
Texas already has some of the most severe restrictions on abortion in the United States, including SB 8, a draconian ban on abortion that took effect on September 1. This law bans abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant and grants almost any person the power to sue someone for “aiding and abetting” a pregnant person seeking abortion care and be awarded $10,000 or more for their vigilantism.
Earlier this year, Gov. Abbott also signed into law a measure that would automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned and criminalizes doctors who provide abortion care. These restrictions disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color; LGBTQ people; those with low incomes; and rural communities, and are part of a coordinated effort by the Right to maintain white patriarchal control at all costs.
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