A physician in Texas has warned of an explosion in the number of women performing self-abortions after a number of highly restrictive anti-choice laws was passed last year.
Dr. Lester Minto, owner of the Reproductive Services of Harlingen clinic in the lower Rio Grande Valley, says that rather than cutting the rate of abortions, the new measures will simply lead to more women seeking illegal abortions, or performing them on themselves.
According to Opposing Views, Dr. Minto said:
[box type=”shadow”]”I hope our politicians are made aware of how many girls are self-aborting in the Rio Grande Valley. This law is backfiring.”[/box]
Minto says that women and girls in Texas are increasingly relying on a drug called misoprostol, which though designed to treat ulcers, can also induce abortions. He says other methods are likely to be used as well, including illegal abortions, and even women self-aborting without the help of a medical professional.
Dr. Minto is the target of regular threats from far-right Christian anti-abortion activists. He wears a bulletproof vest, carries a .45 pistol, and has the FBI and a federal marshal on speed-dial. However he has not let these threats, or the change in the law, stop him from providing help to women and girls who come to him.
In response to the change in the law, he said in October: “Who said I’m not going to do abortions? You said that. I didn’t say that. There’s other names you can call it.”
It has been estimated that the new changes will prevent 22,000 women in Texas from obtaining a safe, legal abortion. The restrictions have led to the closing of dozens of abortion providers across the state. Americans Against the Tea Party recently reported that lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that it was an undue burden to expect poor women in the Rio Grande Valley area to make a 300 mile round-trip to find an approved abortion clinic. The judge’s response was that they could easily make the journey by car if they wanted to and if they drove faster.
As has been well-documented throughout modern history, restricting abortion does not lead to a decrease in abortions, but merely an increase in the number of self-abortions and illegal abortions. These procedures are incredibly dangerous, and demonstrate the callous disregard the anti-choice movement has shown when it comes to protecting the rights and health of women and girls. An undeveloped, unborn fetus is considered more worthy of protection than a living, breathing woman or girl.
At the same time the Republicans and their conservative allies have frequently been at the forefront of beating back one of the best possible ways to prevent an increase in abortions: a rigorously high-standard of sex education, an open and relaxed attitude to talking about sex, and an increase in the availability of contraception.