Last week a panel of three Republican-appointed judges heard oral arguments at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a case that could drastically affect access to mifepristone, one of the drugs in the most commonly used medication abortion regimen in the United States.
The lawsuit centers on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug. While the federal government and pharmaceutical companies argue that the drug is safe, opponents say that the agency did not adequately address concerns both when it was approved in 2000, and later when regulations were loosened in 2016 to expand access.
While the 5th Circuit’s decision could come soon, the case is expected to go to the Supreme Court.
Reckon spoke with M, whose name has been changed in order to protect her identity. She is a 32-year-old in Texas who recently self-managed an abortion in her home using mifepristone. In a state where abortion is illegal, receiving mifepristone in the mail is taking a significant risk, especially for people of color, who are disproportionately prosecuted for drug-related offenses in this country. Still, accessing abortion pills through the mail via websites like plancpills.com is safe and effective—just remember to use an incognito browser to protect your digital privacy.
Trigger warning: this story mentions suicide and sexual abuse.
My most recent abortion was a self managed abortion using the Food and Drug Administration-approved regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol. Although abortion is illegal in Texas, where I live, I was able to safely get the pills through an organization that sends out medication through the mail.
Honestly, I didn’t feel scared to do it. I would have been more scared to go through the pregnancy. I struggle with depression and panic attacks, and was recently suicidal. I am not mentally ready to have a child.
With mifepristone, I was able to have the abortion in the comfort of my own home, a safe space. In a state where abortion is illegal, people need to understand that the pills are lifesaving care.
Texas is Texas. Everyone knows that we have a lot of shit going on, but it’s my home.
My dad’s side of the family was one of very few Black families in a predominantly white town. They don’t share a ton with me about what that was like, but I know they had to be a certain kind of way to fit in. They had to do what they had to do to survive.
At 19 years old, I had my first abortion. I had just graduated from high school, and I was still living with my mom, saving up to follow my dream of studying at an HBCU. I couldn’t afford to get kicked out of the house, so I didn’t tell her about the pregnancy.
To pay for the abortion, I had to sell the presents that family members and friends had given me for my graduation.
The fear I had of becoming a parent was much greater than the abortion itself. I just wanted to get it over with. Whatever I needed to do, I was going to do it. I felt a huge relief when it was over, and to be honest, I didn’t think about it again. I was focused on getting to school.
I have worked hard to heal from a lot of childhood trauma. Now, I am the only person in my family to earn a master’s degree.
When I was in fifth grade, I was molested, and the abuse lasted until I was in ninth grade.
It was my first experience with sexuality of any kind. My mom taught me some things, but mostly through scare tactics. She had also been sexually assaulted, and through her eyes, the only way for us to be safe was to scare us.
In my first year of college, my best friend and I shared an apartment. We slept on the floor because we couldn’t afford furniture, but I didn’t mind. We never thought that two kids from a small town like ours would be able to have their own place in a big city.
Then, I found out I was pregnant with twins.
At first, I was excited. I thought, “Could we do this?” My partner was a hard worker, and I knew that he would work four jobs if he had to. But I also knew that I wanted to finish school.
When I went back to my apartment, I looked around at all the signs of my hard-won independence, and I knew it wasn’t going to work. My best friend was a sex worker, which paid the rent. We lived off chicken nuggets, McDonalds, and ramen noodles. There were times when we didn’t have a balanced meal for two days.
We were so proud to live on our own, but I knew I didn’t want to parent two children under those circumstances.
I wanted to get my degree. And when I want to do something, I’m gonna find a way to get there. Independence has always been my dream.
I have had other abortions. Most of them were products of toxic relationships.
With each pregnancy, my life almost shut down. Abortion care gave me the freedom to come back to myself.
Some of the procedures were painful. I’ve had in-clinic care; I have seen protesters. Once, I watched a doctor run from the parking lot to the clinic covering himself with a jacket.
I have to admit, the protesters made me nervous. They’re out in the open—there’s no real protection from them, no way to stop a bullet if someone had a gun.
I had no control over my body when I was abused as a child. I felt numb. With each abortion, I knew that I could make my own decisions, despite any judgment from those who could never know what it’s like to live my life.
I eventually went on to get my masters degree. I worked 40 hours a week, and studied between 20 and 30 hours a week. I went to night school.
I don’t know how the hell I did it, but when I am determined, I know I can make it happen. I could not have earned my degrees and been a mother. I had to make a choice, and graduating was the best feeling of my life.
I now work in social services, and often encounter people who need abortion care.
Abortion access was very limited here long before the bans. Cost was often a barrier, as was transportation to a clinic, which could be several counties away.
Now, patients are forced to take off work, to find a place to stay overnight. Oftentimes, journeys for care can span four or more days.
One of my clients had to fly to Colorado to get an abortion. She called, freezing—she only had the clothes on her back.
These are life and death decisions. People are piecing together information through word of mouth and social media. I have seen clients try to self-manage their abortions by taking a lot of vitamin C, or consuming certain types of fruit. Someone I know used a hanger. I heard a story of someone else launching themselves down the stairs.
Abortions are a part of my story. I am alive and well, and I am proud that I made the decisions that were necessary for me to survive.
I want a family someday. As a mother, I will talk to my kids about abortion access. I want them to understand that they have control over their own bodies.
Everyone loves someone who has had an abortion, even anti-choice lawmakers.
Allow us to do what we need to do to survive and continue on in this life. We live in this country. This is our home, too. We want to have control over our lives. What that looks like is having control over our bodies, and having abortion access.
Becca Andrews contributed reporting to this piece