Even though sales of two abortion drugs are up in Texas, so too is the number of women crossing the Mexican border for abortions. (Photo: iStock)

While a rule change by the Food and Drug Administration on abortion medication has led to an increase in legal medical (medication-induced, not surgical) abortions in Texas, that doesn’t mean that women still aren’t heading south of the border to terminate their pregnancies. 

According to an National Public Report report, simplified FDA rules on the regimen of abortion drugs (misoprostol and mifepristone) that allows women to take them later in their pregnancy has given those seeking an end to pregnancy a bit more leeway in doing so despite Texas’s strict anti-abortion laws. And while sales of the two drugs are up in the state, so is the number of women crossing the border into Mexico — where misoprostol is available without a prescription and for perhaps a tenth of the price. 

In its Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill, currently before the Supreme Court, the state imposes numerous conditions, including that, whether an abortion is surgical or medically induced, it must be done at a clinic. In addition, the law particularly specified that all guidance provided by the FDA must be strictly followed. 

However, the March change in the abortion medication’s label allows women to take the medication at home, take a lower dosage and follow the regimen later in their pregnancy — up to 10 weeks, where before the limit was seven weeks. 

An increasing number of women is opting to do just that, with Planned Parenthood reporting that four times as many women are now seeking the drug regimen at its Texas clinics. But, because of the expense — in McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, a medical or surgical abortion can run $500 — as well as other conditions of the law, which require women to see the same doctor for three appointments as well as listen to the doctor describe what is visible in the mandatory ultrasound, many are heading to Mexico instead. 

There no prescription is required for misoprostol, although the drug is sold as a gastric ulcer medication there and no instructions are included on pregnancy termination. But the drug might cost $50 instead of $500, and there are no other restrictions. Women must seek out instructions on the drug’s use from other sources, then take their chances with the single drug; alone, it’s not as effective, or as safe, as the two together with proper guidance. 

But so far, they’re willing to do so. 

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