Good news, at least until the Legislature reconvenes.
Texas women will be able to obtain medical abortions later into their pregnancies under newly approved changes by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA on Wednesday announced revised rules for drug-induced abortions — a method used early in a pregnancy — that will increase the number of days women can take medication to induce abortions from 49 days of gestation to 70 days. Other revisions to the original FDA label for medication that induces abortions include a lower dosage of the drug, known as mifepristone.
First approved in 2000, mifepristone, when taken with another drug called misoprostol, is used to terminate early pregnancies.
Doctors in many states already followed common, evidence-based protocols that strayed from the FDA’s previous label for the drug, but Texas doctors were prohibited from doing so by state law. Among the provisions of the 2013 abortion law known as House Bill 2, Texas doctors were required to follow the FDA’s protocol for drug-induced abortions rather than evidence-based protocols.
Abortion providers and representatives of the medical community had long asked for an update to the FDA rules, arguing the original FDA label for mifepristone was based on outdated evidence from the 1990s.
“Today, science has prevailed where the state legislature has failed,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, the organization’s political arm in the state.
While the medication to end a pregnancy must still be administered in Texas by a physician, the FDA revisions also say the second drug can now be taken “at a location appropriate for the patient.” It’s unclear what that means for Texas women who under state law must take the pill in front of a doctor.
A spokesman for the Texas Medical Board, which regulates physicians, said it was “still in the process of analyzing the FDA’s updated regimen.”
Of course, plenty of women have taken matters into their own hands on this, so this is at least a small step in the direction of safety. Don’t expect the Lege to be deterred by this, of course. They will figure out a way to make this as burdensome and punitive as possible. We may get a favorable ruling from SCOTUS in the HB2 case, but this would be a separate matter that would have to be litigated all over again. So enjoy this while you can, it’s got a limited shelf life. Sorry to be such a drag. Think Progress, the Chron, the Press, Daily Kos, and the AusChron have more.