Texas’ Anti-Abortion Bill May Increase “Flea Market Abortions”
3:00 pm, July 12th | by Colette McIntyre
“Flea,” “market,” and “abortions” are three words that we never wanted to hear strung together in a sentence but if the Texas state Senate passes SB1, their ridiculous anti-abortion legislation, flea market abortions will not only continue to exist, they will thrive.
Some of the most detrimental provisions of SB1 are the rigorous standards that clinics will have to meet, necessitating numerous renovations and upgrades, forcing all but five of Texas’ forty-two abortion clinics to close. When women are unable to access these safe, constitutionally legal clinics for care, what will they do? Texas Republicans seem to assume that women will just not get abortions and carry unwanted pregnancies to term and then…find Jesus? Bloomberg reports on the dangerous alternatives women are turning to with their access to safe, affordable abortions restricted:
At an open-air flea market outside McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, shoppers can buy a goat and get their car windows tinted. Tables with handwritten signs touting Viagra are stocked with herbal remedies promising to burn fat and boost breast size. You can also find pills to end a pregnancy.
Bazaars like this have become home to a thriving black market, where women too poor to afford an abortion at a clinic or deterred by state mandates such as a 24-hour waiting period can buy drugs to induce a miscarriage on their own, a dozen area residents and doctors said in interviews.
Hundreds of miles north in Austin, the capital, lawmakers may inadvertently increase this illegal trade. Rules set to pass as soon as this week might result in the closing of most, if not all, abortion facilities in the state. If the law — promoted as a way to improve women’s health — makes legal abortion unavailable in Texas, more women may turn to markets such as the one near McAllen and risk their lives.
Texas women have begun using Cytotec, a pill designed to prevent stomach ulcers, to medically induce abortions. Previously, women interested in obtaining the pill had to travel across the Mexican border since Cytotec requires a prescription in the US; yet, since Texas lawmakers began their fight against reproductive healthcare, underground importers brought the pill to the states. While the medication is cheap, it is also incredibly dangerous: Bloomberg tells the story of Erlinda Dasquez, who took the pill twice, after her first attempt failed, and bled for a month.
“I was scared, but I thought I didn’t have any other choice — I had to do it whatever happens,” she told Bloomberg. “I told my mom so, if anything goes wrong, she could bring me to the hospital or get help.”
Since Texas dramatically cut funding and implemented harsh state mandates for birth control in 2011, health-care providers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley have seen a sharp uptick in the number of women sick from incomplete abortions and bleeding after taking unprescribed drugs. The valley, at the southern tip of the state, is one of the nation’s poorest regions. If the anti-abortion measure passes, the two clinics currently serving the area would be unable to meet the new requirements and would have to close. The nearest functioning abortion clinic would be hundred of miles away in Austin or San Antonio.
Facing a now insurmountable distance and cost, women in this region — and thousands of low-income Texan woman like them in communities all across the state — would be forced to take dire measures
Closing abortion clinics will only endanger more women’s lives. Now remind me how SB1 is pro-life again? Oh, I guess the lives of poor women, particularly poor women of color, don’t matter. I mean, those women aren’t adorable. Babies are adorable.