Abortion Pill

Texas Senate bans mail-order abortion pill for third time, needs quorum in House to advance

Texas, Medicaid, Planned Parenthood

For the third time, a ban on mail-order abortions in the state of Texas passed the Senate handily, following an August 11 vote of 19-10 in support of the ban, according to a press release provided to Live Action News by Texas Alliance for Life.

Senate Bill 4, which bans mail-order abortions and creates certain safety protocols around chemical abortions, sponsored by pro-life Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., has received strong support in the Senate each time it has been introduced, including in the spring legislative session and two special sessions called by pro-life Governor Greg Abbott this summer. A partner bill, House Bill 6, sponsored by pro-life Republican Rep. Stephanie Klick, has not yet been voted on because the House has lacked sufficient legislators present for a quorum.

Both bills require that a doctor must be the one to prescribe the abortion pill regimen, classifying mail-order abortion administration as a felony.

READ: Could the abortion pill be behind the abortion rate increase in Texas?

The mail-order abortion ban takes aim at preventing further complications of abortion drug use, which is on the rise in Texas, which saw a 32% increase in chemical abortions between 2017 and 2019 alone. Data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission shows that in 2020, fully 53% of abortions in the state were chemical abortions (the abortion pill).

Mail-order abortions refer to abortion drugs that are ordered over the internet and sent by mail without an in-person doctor visit. Some websites additionally sell abortion pills by mail without a doctor’s prescription. In April of 2021, and allegedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA controversially approved a temporary suspension of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirement for an in-person doctor’s office visit before abortion pill administration.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Senator Bob Hill brought up two concerning scenarios that the mail-order abortion ban seeks to prevent: 1) a family member could order the abortion pills for a woman and slip them to her unknowingly, and 2) sex-trafficked pregnant women could be forced by their traffickers to take the pills.

 

Even with a prescription, abortion pills are more dangerous than first-trimester surgical abortions

The abortion pills have been noted by many to be significantly more risky for women than first-trimester surgical abortions. Live Action News has previously reported on research from both California Medicaid records as well as Finland, which keeps meticulous and comprehensive abortion and pregnancy records, suggesting that abortion pills have a four-times higher rate of complications than surgical abortions. The most common complications include cramping, hemorrhaging, nausea, and vomiting. Significant complications have been found to occur in 5-20% of all chemical abortion cases in those studies.

What’s for certain is that abortion pill complications are seriously underreported, due to shoddy reporting requirements in the United States as well as lax enforcement of reporting requirements in the states that do have them.

Why are the abortion pills potentially so dangerous?

Abortion drugs RU-486 and misoprostol are only approved for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, meaning that accurate dating of the pregnancy via ultrasound is crucial to prevent incomplete abortions, which have a high potential for causing potentially fatal infection. The other reason to perform an ultrasound before administering abortion drugs is to be sure that the pregnancy is intrauterine and not ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy that progresses to the point of rupture of the Fallopian tube can be life-threatening. A 2018 FDA report (referred to in the above YouTube video) noted that at least 24 women have died due to infection or rupture of an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, since RU-486 was approved under certain conditions in 2000.*

Texas Alliance for Life’s executive director Joe Pojman celebrated the Senate’s August passage of SB 4, saying “We strongly support the chemical abortion safety protocols in SB 4, and we applaud the Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the members of the Senate who supported it. Texas needs this bill to assure that chemical abortions are performed under the supervision of a physician and with adequate safety protocols.”

*Editor’s Note: The FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in women who took Mifeprex. As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal. 
The adverse events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about patient health status and clinical management of the patient. A summary report of adverse events that reflects data through December 31, 2018 is here.

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