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Texas Governor Signs Bill Restricting Medication Abortion Access

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Friday that will make it more difficult for people to access medication abortion in yet another move to eliminate abortion care in the country’s second-largest state.

The law, SB 4, prohibits medication abortion for people seven or more weeks pregnant. Before the law, people could obtain a medication abortion up until 10 weeks of pregnancy. SB 4 also prevents abortion medication from being delivered by courier or a delivery or mail service, rolling back the telemedicine abortion care options made accessible during the pandemic and preventing people from receiving abortion medication in the mail from out of state.

“Anti-choice politicians in Texas are launching their attacks on abortion access from every angle imaginable,” said Adrienne Kimmell, Acting President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement. “This law blatantly tramples on Texans’ fundamental freedoms and pushes access to care further out of reach.”

Medication abortion is a highly safe and effective means of terminating an early pregnancy. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration temporarily ended the requirement that medication abortion be dispensed in-person, increasing abortion access for people in rural communities and people with low incomes. Given the general safety of medication abortion, the in-person dispensing restriction is currently under review by the FDA.

Gov. Abbott signed SB 4 into law discreetly, with no signing ceremony or public announcement. He did not issue a press release or post on Twitter about his signing of the bill.

The law will go into effect in December. Those who violate the law could face up to two years in jail and a fine of $10,000.

This added assault on abortion access comes soon after Gov. Abbott signed SB 8, the country’s strictest abortion ban, into law. SB 8 prevents people from obtaining abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and empowers private citizens to sue anyone suspected of helping someone get an abortion for a potential reward of $10,000. The first lawsuits filed under SB 8 were brought this week against a San Antonio OB/GYN, Dr. Alan Braid, who revealed that he had performed an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in violation of SB 8. The lawsuits against Dr. Braid were brought by two plaintiffs who claim to oppose SB 8 in the hopes of testing the constitutionality of the law.

“Anti-choice politicians have made their intentions abundantly clear,” Kimmell said. “And they will stop at nothing to strip away reproductive freedom.”

Sources: CNN 9/21/21; Forbes 9/20/21; NARAL Pro-Choice America 9/20/21; Independent 9/21/21

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