Texas tightens restrictions on chemical abortions

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) – In another move to protect unborn life in the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill earlier this month that narrows the window of time doctors can prescribe medicine to induce a chemical abortion from 10 weeks into pregnancy to seven weeks. The rule, which also disallows the pills from being delivered by mail, takes effect in December, The Associated Press reported.

In a ceremonial bill signing at Great Hills Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Austin, Abbott called the moment “a celebration,” the Texas Tribune reported. He was at the church for the annual Texas Faith, Family & Freedom Forum, hosted by policy group Texas Values.

“I think it’s clear that the most important freedom of all, obviously, is the right to life,” he said. “And even as we can all understand the imperative of the right to life, there are still millions of children who lose their lives to abortion, every single year. We in Texas will not accept that.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research institute that supports abortion, medication has become the most common way to obtain an abortion, the Texas Tribune reported.

“All pro-life Christians should be encouraged by this move by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature,” said Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press.

“But, while this is certainly a step in the right direction, there’s still much work to be done to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary in our society. The government should do all it can to protect innocent preborn babies.”

The bill, Senate Bill 8, is the latest of a string of pro-life developments in Texas. Abbott also signed the Texas Heartbeat Act in May of this year, which outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block that law Sept. 1, thus allowing it to take effect.

Mifepristone – often known as RU 486 and authorized by the FDA under President Clinton in 2000 – is part of a two-step process in what is referred to as a medical or chemical abortion. Mifepristone, sold under the brand name Mifeprex, causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child, resulting in his or her death. Misoprostol, a second drug taken later, causes the uterus to contract, expelling the body.

Pro-life advocates have long opposed the legalization of mifepristone not only because of its lethal effect on unborn children but its risk to women who are not under a doctor’s direct care when they take the pill.

In April, the Biden Administration allowed the drugs to be sent in the mail – a rule that has gone back and forth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Biden administration temporarily lifted restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, allowing them to be delivered by the mail during the pandemic,” the Texas Tribune quoted Abbot at the signing. “There was an effort to make that permanent. We will not allow that in the Lone Star State.”

This article was written by Laura Erlanson, managing editor for Baptist Press. With reporting by Baptist Press Washington Bureau Chief Tom Strode. It was published on baptistpress.com.

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