PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — In the face of continued legislative efforts to ban abortions, women are now seeking abortion medications on the internet.
Just days after Senate Bill 8, also known as the Heartbeat Act, took effect, Austin mom Angela Vega decided to take matters into her own hands.
"About two days after the bill went into effect, I was like, 'Nuh uh,' started figuring out like, what are my options?" said Vega.
She ran across plancpills.org, a website sharing information about how to access abortion pills online.
While Vega is currently not pregnant, she thought it’d be best to prepare in case she or a friend needed it.
"We now have to add this extra thing to our arsenal of having a plan, Plan C," said Vega. "So having self-managed abortion medication in our medicine cabinet."
After answering a questionnaire online, without doctor consultation, a prescription was created and sent to a pharmacy in India.
She said the process was quick and easy and decided to try a different provider. Now, she has three prescriptions of mifepristone and misoprostol. Pills, when taken together, end a pregnancy.
"For a woman, a friend, a family member, a neighbor who is in need and needs these pills and doesn't have two weeks to wait or doesn't have the $105 or $200 to get these sort of pills," she added.
Mifepristone is taken first to block the flow of progesterone to the developing pregnancy. After that, misoprostol is taken so the uterus cramps and expels what's inside. According to Plan C, this usually involves a few hours of heavy bleeding and cramping.
Plan C said after SB 8 passed, the company saw a significant number of women looking for information on how to get their hands on abortion pills.
"We saw a huge increase, in fact, a percent increase that's almost unimaginable," said Francine Coeytaux, founder of Plan C. "We knew this was going to happen because we knew this law."
While Vega feels she’s doing the right thing, because of SB 8, she faces the risk of lawsuits. Starting Dec. 2, SB 4, which the legislature passed during the second special session, goes into effect.
This bill makes it illegal to give an abortion-inducing drug to a woman, makes getting abortion pills in the mail illegal, and bans abortion after seven weeks.
While some disagree with SB 4, pro-life advocates feel this bill was the right move.
"Chemical abortions are just as dangerous and wrong as surgical abortions, because at the end of the day, what's happening is that a unique individual human being is being killed, whether that's through that surgery or through the drugs," said Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate at Texas Right to Life.
While the Texas Heartbeat Act carries civil penalties, violating SB 4 carries tougher criminal penalties that could land violators in prison.
Abigail Aiken, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas, said passing both bills was a strategic move by Texas lawmakers.
"If Senate Bill 8 is enjoined or struck down by the courts, then Senate Bill 4 is still in place," added Aiken. "If the six-week limit is struck down, there will still be a seven-week limit on medication abortion in place."
While the FDA has yet to approve misoprostol for a pregnant woman, Aiken said a study shows these pills combined will end a pregnancy successfully 95% of the time. Less than 1% required a blood transfusion or antibiotics.
"That is good, strong evidence that this is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy when you cannot get access to the clinic setting," said Aiken.
In the U.S., a prescription is required to get these pills. Experts agree it’s always best to consult with a doctor.
Despite the risks, Vega stands by her decision.
"They want us to be scared about the idea that by being a good person, by helping facilitate health care that is now being outlawed and given to vigilante anti-choice, anti-abortion groups, that we will sit quietly, that we won't say anything," she said.
Vega has no plans to stay quiet.
On Nov. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments. This will help the justices decide if this new abortion law should be blocked.
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