The demand for abortion-inducing medication in Texas skyrocketed in the wake of the state’s law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy
In September, Texas took a thousand steps backwards and passed Senate Bill 8, aka SB8, which prohibits abortions — performing or receiving them — after the six-week mark of pregnancy. The law effectively bans abortion altogether, as many people do not realize they are pregnant that early on. A new study by the University of Texas found that requests for the abortion pill made to Aid Access, an international nonprofit that works to get people who cannot afford or legally obtain medication, shot up 1,200% after the bill passed.
Prior to the instatement of the draconian bill, an average of 10.8 Texans requested the medication per day from Aid Access. The day that SB 8 passed, Aid Access received an average of 137.7 daily requests for the abortion pill.
“That big of a spike in requests shows us the uncertainty and chaos created by Senate Bill 8 going into effect,” Abigail Aiken, the lead researcher on the study, told Texas Tribune. “If it’s not certain that you can go to a clinic and get the care that you need, people will be looking around for what other options they have.”
The demand for medical abortion pills went up not just in Texas, but across the nation when the Lone Star state passed SB 8
With more states stripping away women’s rights to their own bodies, it wasn’t just Texans who were requesting abortion medication at an increased rate. Aid Access saw a jump in requests for abortion pills across the country. Aiken believes that the data suggests people are ordering the pills preemptively, or ordering them for friends or loved ones in states banning the procedure.
Medical abortions involve taking two pills — mifepristone and misoprostol —48 hours apart. This method can be used up to the 10-week mark of a pregnancy, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on sexual and reproductive health rights, medical abortions make up more than half of all U.S. abortions.
In December, the federal government lifted the requirement that abortion pills need to be given to a patient in-person, allowing it to be prescribed remotely via telemedicine and then delivered in the mail.
As it stands, Texas law doesn’t allow the medication to be prescribed or delivered in that manner. Fortunately for Texans requesting the medication, Aid Access sends the pills in discreet packaging, making it difficult for anti-abortion vigilantes to report a violation of the law.
“Short of going through people’s mail, I don’t know how it would be enforced,” Aiken said. Opening or destroying mail that is not addressed to you is a federal crime.
With the threat of Roe v. Wade being struck down by the super-conservative Supreme Court at any moment, it seems like more and more Americans are going to have to rely on obtaining abortion pills through advocacy organizations.