Requests for abortion pills increase after Texas Heartbeat Act takes effect, report says

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – A report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association and led by a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin shows a significant increase in the number of Texans requesting abortion pills since Bill 8 of the Senate, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, went into effect.

The controversial SB8 prohibits abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat. Fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant.

According to the report, between October 1, 2020 and May 9, 2021, before the bill was passed, there was an average (average) of 10.8 pill requests per day at Aid Access Texas. A small increase occurred in mid-May when SB8 was returned from the House for final passage.

In September 2021, when SB8 first came into effect, requests for access to help increased to 1180%, which represents approximately 137.7 requests per day from abortion seekers in the Texas.

“While we cannot pinpoint the exact reason for this distinctive pattern, uncertainty regarding eligibility and cancellations of clinic appointments may have been associated with the peak increase, while abortion funds local and clinics connecting Texans to out-of-state care were likely associated with the subsequent decline,” researchers wrote in the joint study.

After the peak, requests fell but still remained above the baseline, which stood at around 37.1 requests per day compared to 10.8 previously.

Over the following three months (October 1 to December 31, 2021), the average number of requests was approximately 29.5 per day, which is still 174% higher than the previous benchmark of 10.8 requests per day .

Before SB8 went into effect, the average request from Texans seeking abortion pills was about 3.7 a day. The number of requests reached around 85.7 per day during the first week of SB8’s move in September. (Courtesy of JAMA Network)

The study showed that during the same period, the average daily demands of the other 49 states were much lower.

Overall, Aid Access received 1,831 requests from Texas for self-managed abortion in September 2021.

It is important to note the limitations of the study. The study cannot recognize whether or not all requests resulted in abortions or the prevalence of other methods of self-management.

Recent data from the American Medical Association on help requests (courtesy of the JAMA Network)

Pro-life activists react

Pro-life activists said SB8 was still doing what the law’s supporters intended.

“I just want to make sure people know that it wasn’t like it spiked to a thousand percent increase and then it just stayed there. It was a big spike and then it went away. is stabilized,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz of Texas Right to Life Communications.

Texas Right to Life estimates that the law announced 100 abortions every day.

“On the other hand, we’ve seen pro-life pregnancy centers across the state that have seen an increase in the number of women, and here in the community, coming in for help,” said Schwartz.

About accessing help

Aid Access is an international organization that provides abortion medication.

Since 2018, pregnant women could request abortion medication from Aid Access, get a prescription from a licensed doctor through the service, and have it mailed to their home in discreet packaging – without visiting a clinic. .

This year, Texas lawmakers passed two new laws restricting abortion: one banning abortion once fetal heart activity is detected (usually about six weeks into a pregnancy) and the another prohibiting the delivery of abortion drugs by mail. But neither has succeeded in stopping online abortion pill vendors from providing abortion medication to those who want it in Texas.

What are abortion pills?

Medical abortion is a two-step regimen consisting of mifepristone and misoprostol. It was approved by the FDA in 2016 as a safe and effective method of ending pregnancy for up to 10 weeks.

The FDA reported from 2000 to 2018, more than 3.7 million women used abortion drugs, especially mifepristone. Of these, the FDA reported that less than 1%, or 4,195, experienced adverse drug reactions. The FDA reports 24 deaths associated with the drug since the product was approved in September 2000.

But the FDA warns against buying the drug over the internet, saying: “You should not buy Mifeprex or its approved generic over the Internet because you will bypass important safeguards designed to protect your health. Mifeprex and its approved generic have special safety restrictions on how it is distributed to the public. Additionally, drugs purchased from foreign Internet sources are not the FDA-approved versions of drugs, and they are not subject to FDA-regulated manufacturing controls or FDA manufacturing facility inspection.

A few weeks after SB8 took effect, the governor signed the second bill restricting abortion: Senate Bill 4. This bill targeted online abortion drug providers, abortion telemedicine, and specifically an FDA decision changing how abortion drugs could be dispensed during the pandemic.

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