With the Texas legislature having approved a more restrictive abortion bill on Friday, banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and adding restrictions to abortion-inducing medications, some Texas women are weighing their options.
One of those options is a trip across the border to Mexico, where a so-called abortion pill is accessible to anyone—and without a prescription at that.
The drug, misoprostol, is available in Mexico, according to The New York Times, at low prices—"generic at $35 for a box of 28 pills, or the branded Cytotec for $175." In Nuevo Progreso, a Mexican town just south of the U.S. border, pharmacists dole out these pills, which are requested to "bring back a woman's period." (Access to the drug is easy because it is used to prevent gastric ulcers.)
Consistency about dosages, however, is elusive—and possibly dangerous. Taken late in pregnancy, the drug can cause bleeding or a partial abortion, Dr. Dan Grossman, an obstetrician in the San Francisco Bay area, told the Times.
In addition to restrictions on abortions under 20 weeks of pregnancy and medications that induce abortions, the bill also requires that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals and that abortion facilities be held to the same standard as surgical centers.
The bill's author, Republican Representative Jodie Laubenberg, says that the measure was intended to protect women's health. Critics, however, say that the bill was meant to put financial pressure on clinics, ultimately forcing some of them to close.
After all, clinics such as Whole Women's Health in McAllen, Texas, which performs about 1,900 abortions per year, does not have the wide hallways, large recovery rooms or medical equipment on the walls that surgery centers have.
With clinics closing and a lack of health insurance among some women, Grossman tells the Times that thousands of Texas women are using this pill "or trying other methods to induce abortions on their own"—something health experts don't recommend.
"The only option left for many women will be to go get those pills at a flea market," Lucy Felix, a community educator with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in McAllen, told the newspaper.
Protesters outside the Whole Women's Health Clinic, such as 72-year-old Florine deLeon, disagree. She told the Times that if pregnancies were unwanted, women could visit a "crisis pregnancy center down the street that could set up an adoption."