Posted by: Donna
There was good news and bad news on reproductive rights on Tuesday. Voters in Albuquerque, NM cast ballots on a first-time-tried city referendum to ban abortions after 20 weeks. The measure was aimed at two clinics within the city that perform late term abortions on women who often come from far away to get them. Thankfully it failed, demonstrating once again that despite the constant moralizing and emotional manipulation by the anti-choice movement, most people don’t want to criminalize abortion. Whatever their personal beliefs may be about it, they feel it should remain a woman’s private decision. Not that I think basic human rights should be decided by popular vote, but this is a welcome result nonetheless.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually require popularity for awful anti-woman policies to be implemented. Texas recently passed a law that requires abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, a completely unnecessary requirement that proponents were quite open about being designed to do nothing more than close abortion clinics. On Tuesday it was announced that the Supreme Court refused to grant an injunction against the law. Pro-choice groups argued that the law placed an undue burden on abortion providers and patients which, duh, was the whole point of it. Eat a bag of tacks, Anthony Kennedy.
Slate’s Amanda Robb interviewed a doctor who does abortions in Texas about the situation for low income women seeking abortion in his area since the law went into effect.
Slate: Are you closed?
Lester Minto: Of course not. I have nine ladies scheduled for tomorrow.
Slate: What do you tell them?
Minto: That I do not do abortions. I cannot do them legally. And I tell them that I know that there are other things that people do.
Slate: What do other people “do?”
Minto: If they have a passport and enough money, they go over the border to Mexico and go to a pharmacy and buy misoprostol at a pharmacy. It is an ulcer drug, but it works as an abortifacient. It is not as effective mifepristone, which is the on-label medicine used in the U.S. But in these ladies’ situations, misoprostol can be a good choice. It is proper medicine in a blister pack from a proper pharmacy. Someone might even know how to dose it. But it can be an expensive choice. In the U.S., misoprostol costs 10 to 12 cents a pill. I have had ladies charged $80 a pill at Mexican pharmacies. Also passports are expensive and can take too long to get if you don’t have one already. Misoprostol only works up to about seven weeks after your last menstrual period. You need a passport now just to walk over the bridge into Mexico and back. Of course if you are undocumented this isn’t an option at all.
Slate: What do women do if they don’t have a passport?
Minto: They buy the drug at a flea market. This is bad and sad and wrong. They are going to be buying things on the street. You don’t even know if you are getting the real thing. But these goddamn politicians … Women are forced to crawl around like goddamn criminals. So I am here to help them.
Dr. Minto goes on to describe how, once women take the drug, he can give them medical assistance if it doesn’t complete the abortion. This is legal because it is “miscarriage management” at that point. It’s basically life pre-Roe v Wade now for women in Texas without private doctors who can do their procedures or the means to travel somewhere else.
Arizona anti-choicers, being a bunch litigious nuisances themselves, have passed the same law here along with other restrictions – known as TRAP laws – on abortion providers. There are now only six clinics in Arizona and five are in Maricopa County. I am told that desperate women in Arizona have been going the same route as Texas women in obtaining pills from Mexico or from the black market.
You can see where this is headed in places like Texas in Arizona. Antis may not be able to ban abortion outright but they can push for increased monitoring of health care providers who deal with pregnancy complications and requiring all miscarriages to be reported. They can go after women having “suspicious” miscarriages, especially if they are poor or have engaged in disapproved of behavior. As with everything else they do, they don’t need a shred of medical evidence to proceed with it.
Leave a comment