On Monday, Sept. 20, the governor of Texas passed a law that bans the administration and sale of abortion pills after seven weeks of pregnancy and penalizes those who violate the recently passed ‘heartbeat’ law with imprisonment and substantial fines.
SB4, a companion to SB8 better known as the heartbeat law that bans abortions after six weeks, was quietly passed by Governor Greg Abbott on Monday, adding more restrictions to abortions in his state.
With SB4, doctors and abortion providers will be prohibited from administering or selling abortion pills past seven weeks of pregnancy. According to the Dallas Morning News, although with certain legal hurdles, it will also attempt to criminalize out-of-state providers of abortion drugs.
The new law criminalizes as a felony those who “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” violate anti-abortion measures and carries fines of up to $10,000 and six months to two years in prison.
Adrienne Kimmel, acting president of the pro-abortion organization NARAL, disputed the new measure: “Anti-choice politicians have made their intentions abundantly clear, and they will stop at nothing to strip away reproductive freedom.”
Since the heartbeat law was passed, there has been a significant increase in internet inquiries about abortion pills.
Democratic State Senator Eddie Lucio this is one of the arguments for why the new restrictions on abortion pills were proposed.
“Doctors need to be present when patients receive these drugs so the patient knows what to expect from normal side effects and what needs to be addressed quickly before it turns into a serious issue,” Lucio said in his layout of the bill during a Senate committee hearing.
Rep. Will Metcalf, a Republican and co-sponsor of the bill, explained that SB4’s goal is to “to crackdown on unsafe “mail-order” abortions and increase the reporting requirements for complications resulting from all types of abortion,” that is, to maintain strict reporting of those abortions where women end up with some harm from the procedure.
According to the drug regulator (FDA) it is ‘safe’ to take abortion pills up to 10 weeks, and before SB4, this was the established limit.
In April of this year, the FDA approved the telephone sale of mifepristone and misoprostol, the abortion pills, claiming that access to these drugs became more difficult with the pandemic and restrictions on mobility.
In the United States, 24 deaths and 4000 adverse events have been recorded for the use of these two pills.
Pro-life Texas in causes pandemonium
After Texas Republicans passed the heartbeat law and attempts to stop its implementation failed in the Supreme Court, the Biden administration ‘vowed’ to do everything possible to ensure women in Texas have access to abortions.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said his department contacted prosecutors around the country and the FBI to explore all legal options to stop the pro-life law in Texas.
However, the heartbeat law is enforced by private citizens and not the state, so the Texas government is only in charge of prosecuting those persons or institutions that are denounced when they try to perform or assist an abortion by common citizens who receive monetary incentives.
Thus, as long as ordinary citizens enforce the law peacefully, the federal government is left with little legal option to act upon.