Where Can You Buy Abortion Pills
The lawsuit by Marcus A. Silva of Galveston County, Texas, seeks more than $1 million from each of the three defendants and an injunction prohibiting them from "distributing abortion pills." Silva's ex-wife is not a defendant in the suit.
where can you buy abortion pills
It's believed to be the first such case since the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision last June overturned decades of abortion-rights precedent, allowing laws criminalizing abortion to take effect around the country.
The lawsuit alleges that Silva's then-wife discovered she was pregnant in July 2022 and tried to conceal both the pregnancy and the self-managed abortion from him. According to the lawsuit filed in state court, the couple divorced in February of this year.
Silva's then-wife worked with two of the women accused in the lawsuit, which includes screenshots of text messages that appear to show the friends discussing various ways of obtaining abortion pills and the logistics involved in self-managing an abortion at home. The third woman is accused of supplying the abortion pills.
Silva's lead attorney is Jonathan Mitchell, who is known for designing the legal strategy behind Senate Bill 8, the unique Texas abortion ban that took effect in 2021 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it. That law, implemented months before the Dobbs decision, got around federal precedent by employing what opponents describe as a "bounty hunter" system. It allows private citizens to sue anyone believed to be involved in helping a patient obtain an illegal abortion in Texas for tens of thousands of dollars.
But this case takes a different and arguably more aggressive strategy by instead referring to the state's wrongful death, murder and anti-abortion statutes. The suit describes assisting an abortion in Texas as an "act of murder" and notes the abortion took place after the Dobbs ruling, arguing that it was not protected by any federal precedent.
It repeatedly describes the abortion as the "murder" of Silva's "unborn child" with "illegally obtained pills." The suit also claims the three defendants conspired with the pregnant woman to secretly terminate her pregnancy.
The suit specifically notes that Silva's ex-wife is "exempt from civil and criminal liability and Marcus is not pursuing any claims against her." In the aftermath of Dobbs, the question of whether people who have abortions should be targeted for prosecution has been an ongoing subject of speculation and sometimes debate among abortion-rights opponents, although several major anti-abortion groups have taken a public stance opposing the prosecution of patients themselves.
In a statement, former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, a senior adviser at Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said abortion-rights activists are "outraged, but we are not surprised" and accused anti-abortion groups of using the courts "as an instrument of fear and intimidation."
The suit comes as a federal judge in Texas is considering a separate lawsuit filed by anti-abortion rights groups seeking to force the Food and Drug Administration to pull mifepristone, a drug used in most medication abortions in the U.S., off the market. A competing lawsuit filed by a group of Democratic state attorneys general seeks to preserve access by prohibiting the FDA from removing the drug.
Medication abortion access increasingly has become the focus of litigation and legislation surrounding the fight over abortion rights in the United States. That's in large part because of its increasing use by patients seeking abortions. More than half of abortions in the U.S. now take place using pills, and pills are often more accessible than surgical procedures for people living in states with restrictive abortion laws.
More than half of all U.S. abortions are medically induced through a two-pill regimen that requires a prescription but does not involve surgery. And since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, rates are expected to increase.
Now, a permanent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration will allow retail pharmacies to fill prescriptions for the drugs, making the once onerous process of obtaining the abortion pills much easier in states that permit the procedure. But in places with strict anti-abortion bans, pregnant people may still find it challenging to get their hands on the medication.
Mifepristone is used to terminate pregnancies of up to 10 weeks. It works when it is followed up with a dose of misoprostol, usually taken 24 to 48 hours later. The second pill causes the uterus to expel the pregnancy. (Doctors also use both pills during miscarriages to speed things along and minimize infection risk.)
While no one is required to carry them, pharmacies that wish to dispense the pills would need to meet certain requirements and receive special certification from the FDA. And, in all cases patients still need a prescription. (They will not be available as over-the-counter medications.)
He added: "We are working through the registration, necessary training of our pharmacists, as well as evaluating our pharmacy network in terms of where we normally dispense products that have extra FDA requirements and will dispense these consistent with federal and state laws."
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks state laws and policies surrounding abortion, 29 states specifically require physicians to administer medication abortions. Eighteen of those states have already effectively banned the pills' use in telemedicine by requiring a clinician to be in the room when a patient takes the mifepristone. That means sometimes people have to schedule an initial appointment to get the prescription and if the office or clinic is out of stock then the patient has to return for a second visit to take the pill in front the doctor or clinician.
In the early months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine's supply lines were abruptly cut off. One of the supplies people could no longer get? Abortion pills. NPR's Rough Translation podcast followed the story of a secret effort to resupply Ukrainian doctors. Because of the potential legal consequences for some involved in this mission, many people in the story we're about to hear are only referred to by one name or no name at all. Also, we'd like you to know that this piece refers to sexual violence. Rough Translation host Gregory Warner and reporter Katz Laszlo tell the story.
LASZLO: Maistruk has been practicing medicine for four decades. And abortion has been legal for her whole career. And 10 years ago, abortion pills came on the market. But when Russia invaded in February 2022, first of all, supply chains to the country were cut off.
OLGA: (Through interpreter) We realized that women would come and come and come, and there are going to be more and more of them. But the pills, there's not going to be more of them. And we didn't know if there was going to be any.
WARNER: We agreed not to use the supplier's name because of the way he got the pills into Ukraine. See, abortion is legal in Ukraine, but there were no planes flying into Ukraine after the invasion. So the fastest way that the supplier saw to get those pills into the country was to take them by land across Poland. But Poland has some of the strictest abortion laws in the region. In Poland, it's illegal to give someone abortion pills.
WARNER: So the supplier's solution was to take the medicine out of its packaging, out of its labels and pour it in bulk into plastic bags. Imagine a bunch of plastic bags with 75,000 loose pills inside. And actually, you need multiple pills for an abortion. So that's enough of about 15,000 abortions. The supplier then flew those bags to Poland, where they were handed off to a chain of volunteers. And one of those volunteers on the chain was Ukrainian woman named Yevgenia. She has an NGO that delivers medical supplies.
YEVGENIA: I'm definitely not against abortion, but it was like, why we should bring it in this amount? It's a large amount to Ukraine, into Ukraine to take it. And the reason, the first reason was rape cases.
WARNER: We heard stories of patients where the war came into their lives, changed their environment, their living situation, their relationships, their income. And they knew they needed these pills. But we also heard stories that went beyond abortion.
LASZLO: Every single woman that came in was hemorrhaging. When doctors see these complications happening, they can reach for these pills because it's really dangerous if a miscarriage doesn't complete. Like, if anything is left in your womb, then you can get pretty serious infections. So you take the pills, and then those pills make sure that your uterus is completely cleared out. In the case of bleeding, you don't actually need both pills. Doctors would just go for misoprostol. That's the pill that causes the contractions. And so when you have that contraction, it clamps down on the blood vessels, and essentially, it stops the bleeding.
WARNER: We'd come to Ukraine to do a story about abortion pills and war. But it was only when we were in the country, where doctors had been running out of pills because of the war, that we could see the story of this medicine was so much bigger. For all the risk people took to smuggle these pills into Ukraine, all the concerns they had over being arrested because of Polish abortion laws, most of these pills were used either to help women safely give birth or to deal with the complications of pregnancy.
Since that April shipment we were following, there's been more deliveries of abortion pills. Since the mail systems were back on, those pills were mailed instead of smuggled over the border. And we went to the place where those pills are being kept.
LASZLO: It was so dramatically casual. We're just standing in this guy's apartment. And each of these pills is a story. It's someone's story, a moment in their life, whether that's pregnancy or a complication or a family decision or pressure, a traumatic event or just something they'll forget.
MARTIN: That was reporter Katz Laszlo and Rough Translation host Gregory Warner. To hear the full story of the smuggled pills and how war is complicating the abortion conversation in Ukraine, check out NPR's Rough Translation podcast. 041b061a72