Texas has tightened a ban on abortion by mail with prison time and heavy fines

Texas already had the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States — and they just got stricter. A new law came into force on Wednesday, imposing imprisonment and fines of up to $ 10,000 for anyone prescribing an abortion drug by telemedicine or by mail.

Texas bans all abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo. This usually occurs about 6 weeks after pregnancy, often before you realize you are pregnant. In Texas, telemedicine or postal abortion is already illegal, and new criminal penalties came into effect the day the Supreme Court heard a debate in the Mississippi proceedings that could ultimately be overturned. Roe v. Wade, A groundbreaking 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion.

In contrast to surgical abortions, which are usually done in clinics, drug abortions are taken at 48-hour intervals with two pills that manipulate hormones to end the pregnancy. Many people prefer this process early in pregnancy because pills can be taken at home. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in 2000, and this procedure is valid until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Texas is not the only state that limits drug abortion and telemedicine. Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, said this year alone, five other states have passed legislation banning the mailing of abortion drugs.

“It’s an abortion squeeze play,” she said.

Mr Nash said the crackdown was partly a response to a pandemic, which prompted interest in abortion.

“We see an increase and it’s actually like coming out of telemedicine as part of a medical practice,” she said.

A new Texas law, known as SB 4, also narrows the legal period for abortion to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The state legislature passed this new law on September 17 during a special session. It has been more than two weeks since another abortion law called the “6 Weeks Ban” came into force on September 1. It failed in court.

“We already have the most extreme abortion bans in the United States, but our Congress has prioritized adding this additional abortion limit,” said Greater Texas’s highest planned parent-child relationship diplomat. The official, Sarawheat, said.

Due to the 6-week ban, the new restrictions on abortion will not have an immediate effect. “Most people at this stage of pregnancy are already banned from accessing abortion in Texas,” Wheat said.

However, new legislation can have a significant impact on future access to abortion.

By criminalizing the use of telemedicine and mail-order prescriptions to obtain abortion drugs, the state aims to prevent possible workarounds against the decline in the number of reproductive medicine clinics in Texas.

Already, many Texas people live hundreds of miles from the nearest clinic that offers abortion services. Proponents are promoting the use of telemedicine for drug abortion in areas where there are few clinics, and in some states, better telemedicine, including abortion drugs, during a pandemic shutdown. I experimented with flexibility.

The new law “creates additional fear and stigma for those who may be seeking access to drug-induced abortion,” Wheat said.

The Texas Anti-Abortion Group welcomed SB 4 as a victory. This is an important second step in efforts to reduce all access to procedures in the state after a six-week ban.

John Seago, head of legislation at Texas Right to Life, said his group wanted law enforcement officers to be able to prosecute those who circumvent the strict restrictions of the state by performing abortions.

“This work is very important for this period, but if you look at it after that, it will move into the future. [Roe v. Wade] There are organizations and individuals who advertise the mailing of abortion-inducing drugs, “he said.

Nash of the Guttmacher Institute said that in some states, telemedicine services make it easier for people to get an abortion drug.

Mr. Sigo said he wanted to prevent it from happening in Texas.

“This will be a matter of future public policy regarding abortion, no matter what happens. Roe v. Wade,” He said.

So far, no proceedings have challenged Texas law restricting access to abortion drugs. Since the Texans are virtually banned from all abortions after six weeks, it is complicated to file a legal objection to suspend the law. It will probably be difficult for Texas plaintiffs to find a legal position to file a proceeding.

Finally, Mr. Wheat said the latest Texas law is a sign of what could happen elsewhere. She said she showed endless efforts aimed at making abortion more difficult.

“Watch out for Texas, because our politicians can’t quit and find endless ways to add fear, intimidation, and restrictions,” Wheat said.

This story is part of a partnership that includes: KUT, NPR and KHN.

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Texas has tightened a ban on abortion by mail with prison time and heavy fines

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