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The SB 8 Ban on D&E Abortions Ignores Best Practices, Patient Preferences

This guest post was written by Monica K, a Lilith Fund volunteer and longtime supporter

Today, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the omnibus, anti-abortion Senate Bill 8 into law. SB 8 bans physicians from performing D&E abortions, short for dilation and extraction, as well as criminalizes anyone who knowingly helps a person access a D&E abortion.This potentially includes everyone from a physician who provides abortion care to the friend who gives a patient a ride to their appointment. SB 8 also prohibits patients from donating tissue after an abortion and requires clinics to bury or cremate the remains, increasing the cost of the procedure and violating patients’ rights.

When given a choice, most women seeking second or third trimester abortions choose the D&E procedure. It’s a safe and effective method and the preferred choice of physicians. Over 95 percent of second and third trimester abortions performed in the United States are done with D&E. The Guttmacher Institute suggests that the widespread use of the procedure is why anti-choice groups specifically advocate against it.

An alternative to D&E is an induction abortion. While safe for most patients, studies have show this form of abortion has a higher risk of complications in comparison to D&E. Induction usually takes place in a hospital instead of a clinic and can require patients to stay overnight. In contrast, most D&E patients can go home the same day as the procedure.

The decision of the Texas legislature to ban D&E is especially egregious in light of the state’s maternal death rate–a figure that nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014. Instead of supporting women’s health, Texas has weakened it further by taking away the preferred choice of patients and doctors for ending a second and third trimester pregnancy.

As a volunteer at the Lilith Fund, I talk with people across Texas who want an abortion but can’t afford it. Some of the biggest barriers to abortion for our callers are the additional costs like finding someone to watch their kids, paying for gas and lodging, and the pay cut from needing to take several days off from work. For those seeking second and third trimester abortions, having to undergo a potentially more involved and time-consuming procedure could put abortion completely out of reach. Many Lilith Fund clients are also worried about revealing their abortion to family, friends and the community. The restrictions mandated by SB 8 keep abortion–and important discussions surrounding abortion care–in the shadows.

We all remember the devastating impact of House Bill 2, a similar omnibus anti-abortion access bill from 2013. It’s essential that we advocate to overturn SB 8, just as we did for HB 2, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year. It will undoubtedly be a long and prolonged fight.

In the face of SB 8 it’s vital that we all continue to support Lilith Fund’s clients, the health care providers who care for them, our sister funds and organizations that provide rides, lodging and other practical support. Safe and accessible abortion care for all Texans depends on it.

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