SILVER SPRING, Md. — As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. residents are launching a program focused on patients accessing care at home.
Dr. Serina Floyd, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, said the Texas near-total ban on abortions highlights a need for expanded services, from telehealth to prescriptions by mail for medical abortions. Her group is only the second Planned Parenthood location in the U.S. to offer the service, following St. Louis’s lead.
Floyd thinks the approach will become more common as abortion rights are challenged.
“Whether we’re talking about those who no longer have access to it in Texas, and who are having to travel out of the state, and for those who are in surrounding areas, depending on how licensing is set up, individuals from anywhere in the country can provide this care to individuals,” Floyd outlined.
This week, the Biden administration filed an emergency request to a federal judge in Austin, to block enforcement of the Texas abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, or incest.
Wednesday, Maryland and Virginia attorneys general joined others across the nation to file a legal brief supporting the Justice Department’s challenge of the Texas ban, calling it “unconstitutional.”
Floyd describes the law as “devastating,” for letting private citizens file civil lawsuits against anyone who helps a Texan terminate a pregnancy.
“This is empowering private citizens to enforce an abortion ban,” Floyd observed. “It could be a family member, an abusive partner, even a stranger from out of state can sue a provider or a support person. That could be anything from someone who’s helping from a financial standpoint, to even someone who’s driving a patient.”
Floyd thinks the Texas law might spur changes in medication abortion rules. According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion-inducing medicines made up one-third of all U.S. abortions in 2017. However, 19 states require a clinician to be physically present when the medication is taken.