A Texas Democrat is leading the charge to outlaw mail-order abortions after the Biden administration made the controversial decision to legalize the practice.
State senator Eddie Lucio (D.) is sponsoring legislation to enact criminal penalties against companies and individuals who ship abortion drugs directly to women by mail. Federal regulators overturned a long-standing prohibition against abortion by mail in April, prompting pushback from pro-life lawmakers at the state level.
"The federal government has chosen not to enforce its regulations. … It will allow access to these drugs through the mail, and that is a major concern to me and to many people," Lucio told the Washington Free Beacon. "Our thought here with this legislation is that pharmaceutical companies would not be able to mail the patient, or the woman, what we consider dangerous abortion pills."
According to Lucio, there are major safety concerns with mail-order abortion. Women who face complications after consuming the lethal drugs could find themselves alone, rather than in the presence of doctors and nurses.
"I wouldn't want two deaths instead of one. It's bad enough that there will be an abortion, to also lose the mother will be catastrophic," Lucio said. "I'm trying to save the life of the mother at this point by not having her be able to receive these dangerous abortion pills over the mail."
Republican governor Greg Abbott asked lawmakers to make the ban on abortion by mail a top legislative priority when he convened a special legislative session that has mainly drawn attention for voting reform measures. Republicans have spearheaded the effort in the House, while Lucio joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to sponsor identical legislation in the state Senate.
Abbott has signed a number of pro-life bills into law, including a measure that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
"Governor Abbott supports legislation that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion," Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze told the Free Beacon.
Texas pro-life groups praised lawmakers for coming together in a bipartisan fashion. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said the criminal penalties are necessary checks against bad actors taking advantage of vulnerable women.
"We think the time is right for this to happen," Pojman told the Free Beacon. "We are very afraid that illegal mail-order abortions could become commonplace in Texas, and we think that the criminal penalties are going to help mitigate that problem."
In the last several years, chemical abortions have become the most common form of abortion in Texas. Pojman estimates that 28,000 chemical abortions were carried out in Texas in 2020 and that number could rise dramatically if pharmaceutical companies are allowed to bypass doctors and ship directly to women.
"We think that is a grave mistake," Pojman said.
Many House Democrats fled Texas in an unsuccessful bid to block voting reforms, but the state Senate has carried out its legislative procedure without interruption. Lucio expects a vote on his bill before the end of the session and expects it to pass easily through heavy GOP majorities.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas did not respond to requests for comment.