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Lindsay Beyerstein: "Miscarriage Management" in the Rio Grande Valley: The View from La Farine LXXXV: January 29, 2014

Lindsay Beyerstein: The latest work-around for abortion docs: "For 32 years, Dr. Lester Minto performed abortions at Reproductive Services of Harlingen, a modest, one-story building in Harlingen, Texas right next door to the regional branch of the state Department of Health.

Ever since October 31, however, he has been barred from performing abortions. Minto lacks local hospital admitting privileges, which Texas’s new abortion law—H.B. 2—requires all abortion providers to have.... The Rio Grande Valley... with 1.3 million inhabitants... is without an abortion provider. Women in the Valley must now make a 300-mile round trip to Corpus Christi or a 500-mile round trip to San Antonio for a clinic abortion....

On paper, the admitting-privileges requirement sounds like an innocuous bit of quality control. One might assume that any half-decent physician should be able to get admitting privileges. But it doesn’t work that way.... Local hospitals “are not going to have anything to do with an abortion provider,” Minto says....

[Now] when patients come to his clinic they get an ultrasound to find out how far along they are and counseling. He tells them that he can’t perform abortions anymore, but that there are other options.... If you show up at his office bleeding from a miscarriage, he can help you out, no questions asked. “Nothing here is back alley,” Minto says. “We do follow-ups with everybody. We still treat them just like we always did."...

It is common knowledge in the Valley that misoprostol induces miscarriages. And it’s readily available: If you have a passport, you can walk over the border and buy the drug from a Mexican pharmacy without a prescription. If you can’t cross the border, you can buy black-market pills from bustling flea markets or dusty fortune tellers’ shops...

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