As expected, the 2011 cuts in Texas family planning—not to mention the patently absurd new law that women are required to get a sonogram 24 hours before their abortion procedure—are taking their toll on the ladies of the Lone Star State. Concerned women's health providers in Texas report that they're seeing a higher number of women who cross the Mexican border to acquire misoprostol in order to terminate their unwanted pregnancy, but show up to their regular clinic to ask for a pregnancy test shortly after, finding that the pills hadn't been effective.
The Pfizer drug Cytotec, which requires a prescription in the U.S., is used for ulcer prevention stateside and not recommended as a standalone for pregnancy termination, although it is sometimes paired with RU-486 to produce a "medical abortion." According to the World Health Organization, Cytotec and its generic form can be effective if used correctly within the first 9 weeks of gestation. However, Mexican pharmacies often sell the drugs without clear instructions on the dosage or even a trained pharmacist to speak to the women, exacerbated by the fact that abortion is illegal outside of Mexico City—even if a pharmacist was knowledgeable about misoprostol, they might be wary to educate the consumer on precisely how to use it for that purpose.
Mexican pharmacy employees are aware why many women purchase Cytotec but employ a sort of helpless verbal shrug. ("If I see that a girl is too young, I won't sell it. I try my best to explain the consequences, but there's only so much I can do.") When a Texas Tribune reporter asked this particular pharmacist what the appropriate dose would be, he reluctantly said it was one pill every two hours: 18 pills in all. (In fact, the recommended dose for a self-induced abortion is 12 tablets of Cytotec.)
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