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New Mexico Prepares For Influx Of Texas Residents Seeking Abortions

Across the state of New Mexico, where there are few restrictions on abortion, providers, abortion funds and practical support groups are preparing, financially, logistically, and emotionally, to help provide care to an anticipated influx of patients from Texas, who will no longer be able to receive it in their home state.

Experts say Texas State Bill 8, the new anti-abortion law, is the most restrictive one allowed by courts to stand in decades.

Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

S.B. 8, which went into effect Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the law, bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, a point that could occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy, well before many women even know they are pregnant or before a fetal heartbeat can even be detected.

Unlike other states’ anti-abortion laws, Texas’ unique ban is enforced through private citizens’ lawsuits against abortion providers, rather than through state government. It includes first-of-its-kind language that allows anyone, even people outside Texas, to sue an abortion provider or anyone else who helped someone get the procedure after the six-week limit and seek damages of $10,000 per defendant. A website has been set up for people to report anyone they suspect of planning to get an abortion, but social media users have overtaken it to the point that many people have reported their IP getting blocked from the site.

 

Those suits are all but certain to cripple the ability of Texas-based groups — that provide everything from financial help to pay for abortion care, as well as practical support such as transportation, lodging and child care — to operate, because they’ll have to spend their limited time and resources defending themselves against lawsuits. Many stopped seeing patients who were more than six weeks pregnant earlier in August.

With the help of abortion funds and practical support groups in next-door New Mexico, however, many of these women will be able to still receive the care they need. Clinics in New Mexico, experts explained, are the closest possible destinations many women needing care in large parts of Texas can reach quickly. In addition, New Mexico doesn’t have any legal restrictions on abortion.

A handful of the other five states with no gestational limits on abortion — in particular, Colorado and Oregon — are likely to see a substantial uptick in Texas patients, too, although New Mexico remains the closest option for many, experts said. The other states are Alaska, New Jersey, and Vermont; a seventh, New Hampshire, currently has no gestational limits, but will impose one at 24 weeks of pregnancy, as of January 1, 2022, due to a recently passed state law.



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