Archive for Yelena Dzhanova

Abortion pill providers are fielding high-volume requests from Texans who want to safely terminate their pregnancies

abortion pill
  • More patients from Texas are asking abortion providers about a pill to end their pregnancy since the rollout of SB8.
  • SB8 is a restrictive abortion law that went into effect on September 1.
  • The law prohibits anyone from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Telehealth and healthcare providers are seeing upticks in the number of Texans asking for medical abortion pills to end their pregnancies, suggesting Texans are desperate to find ways to skirt the restrictive SB8 law.

The law, which went into effect September 1, prohibits anyone from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. That's a point at which most people do not yet know they are pregnant.

In response, Texans who need an abortion have been looking for alternative approaches to getting one, like traveling out of state.

At online abortion clinic Hey Jane, the number of patients from Texas calling in to get an abortion pill more than doubled from August to September, a timeframe that aligns with the law's rollout.

Mobile reproductive health clinic Just the Pill also saw a "slight uptick" in patients from Texas, Medical Director Julie Amaon told Insider.

"We have had a slight uptick in Texas patients, but we have not been able to see any of them here," Amaon said.

That's because most people are flocking to neighboring states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Just the Pill has options set up for people living in or willing to travel to Minnesota or Montana. The company has begun contacting clinics in states neighboring Texas to help people in the area get access to an abortion pill.

For immigrants and people who have commitments like work or children, traveling out of state to get an abortion is not a viable option.

Sometimes buying abortion pills is also not an option.

Abortion pills can cost hundreds of dollars. Just the Pill provides abortion care for $350 per patient, and the clinic does not accept insurance.

"It's a ton of money, and trying to get your funds together is one of the principal reasons for delaying getting an abortion," said Columbia University reproductive rights scholar Carol Sanger in an interview with Insider. "You have no one to lend it to you."

Reproductive companies are struggling to bring abortion access to Texans

Abortion provider Choix is working to set up telehealth opportunities in states bordering Texas.

"We want people to have as many options as possible for how and when they can get abortion care, especially given how overwhelmed many brick and mortar clinics are that surround Texas," Choix Co-Founder Cindy Adam told Insider.

Abortion-inducing medication is becoming an increasingly common way to end a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization. But the medication is getting harder to obtain.

In September, Republican Governor Kristi Noem issued an order to restrict access to abortion medication in South Dakota. Under the order, an in-person examination is required before a state-licensed physician can dispense or prescribe an abortion pill to a patient. The medication is also blocked from being delivered or provided in schools and on state property.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott is doubling down and making pills harder to obtain. Starting December 2, a separate bill signed just weeks after SB8 went into effect will restrict abortion-inducing medication. Physicians will be allowed to provide abortion pills to people who are seven weeks into a pregnancy, down from 10 weeks.

The law will also prohibit physicians from mailing an abortion pill to Texans.

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A Florida school says students who get vaxxed must stay home for 30 days due to unfounded claim that they’ll infect others

Junior Molly Day gets her first Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Ridley, PA
Junior Molly Day gets her first Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Ridley, Pennsylvania on May, 3, 2021.
  • Centner Academy in Florida told parents any student who gets vaccinated must quarantine for 30 days.
  • That's because of a belief that vaccinated students can infect unvaccinated students, WSVN reported.
  • An infectious disease expert who spoke with WSVN characterized that belief as "science fiction."

A private school in Miami, Florida, is requiring students who get vaccinated to quarantine at home for 30 days after each dose.

"Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free," a letter sent out to parents of students at the Centner Academy says, according to local news outlet WSVN.

The letter also urges parents to "hold off" on getting their children vaccinated until the summer "when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease."

School officials told WSVN that the 30-day quarantine mandate exists because they believe there is a risk that vaccinated students would infect unvaccinated students.

One infectious disease expert who spoke with WSVN characterized that belief as "science fiction."

"What happens 30 days after they get vaccinated? What kind of nonsense is this?" said Dr. Aileen Marty from Florida International University. "Where did they get that? There's nothing in the recommendations to that… they made that up. That's science fiction, not even science fiction because it's pure fiction."

None of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in the US "contain the live virus that causes COVID-19," a myth page published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reads. "This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19."

Additionally, early research has suggested that fully vaccinated people are less infectious than those who are unvaccinated. Health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's topmost coronavirus expert, said vaccinated people who contract the coronavirus are far less likely to spread it than unvaccinated people.

There is data that suggests there's a hierarchy to the three approved vaccines in the United States, with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine performing the worst. Still, being vaccinated even with a Johnson and Johnson dose is better than not being vaccinated at all, according to health experts.

Vaccines might cause symptoms like fevers, the CDC says, but that's normal and is a sign "that the body is building protection against the virus." An Insider analysis of more than a dozen studies found that Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and AztraZeneca are highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Health officials are urging parents to vaccinate their kids against the coronavirus as soon as possible.

"Schools can promote vaccinations among teachers, staff, families, and eligible students by providing information about COVID-19 vaccination, encouraging vaccine trust and confidence, and establishing supportive policies and practices that make getting vaccinated as easy and convenient as possible," an info page about vaccinating kids from the CDC reads.

The coronavirus and its variants have been spreading quickly across schools, infecting and sometimes killing students and teachers. An unvaccinated teacher in California infected 26 people with the coronavirus after removing their mask to read to the class. A Mississippi eighth-grader died of COVID-10 just a week into school in August. Two teachers in Texas died from COVID-19 just days apart, forcing the school district to temporarily close.

Centner Academy, which did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, defended the letter sent home to parents in a statement to WSVN.

"Centner Academy's top priorities are our students' well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment. We will continue to act in accordance with these priorities," officials told WSVN. "The email that was sent to families today was grounded in these priorities."

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Desperate Afghan parents are selling their kids to pay off debt as poverty levels deepen following Taliban takeover: report

A dozen Afghan people are running, one woman is holding the hand of a child.
People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021.
  • Some Afghan families are being forced to trade their kids to settle debts, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Saleha, for example, is a house cleaner who gave up her 3-year-old girl instead of paying a $550 debt.
  • Poverty is rising in Afghanistan following the Taliban's swift takeover in August.

Some desperate Afghan parents are forced to sell their children to deal with poverty, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A house cleaner in western Afghanistan named Saleha, for example, sold her 3-year-old daughter to a man to whom she owed a $550 debt. Saleha, 40, receives 70 cents a day from her job, and her husband doesn't work, the Journal said.

"If life continues to be this awful, I will kill my children and myself," Saleha told the Journal. "I don't even know what we will eat tonight."

"I will try to find money to save my daughter's life," husband Abdul Wahab said.

Khalid Ahmad, the lender, told the Journal he had to accept the 3-year-old girl to settle the debt.

"I also don't have money. They haven't paid me back," he said. "So there is no option but taking the daughter."

Last month, the United Nations' development agency said Afghanistan is heading toward "universal poverty" following the Taliban's swift takeover of the country.

Within a year, the poverty rate in Afghanistan will hover at a whopping 97% or 98%, said Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP's Asia-Pacific Director.

"Afghanistan pretty much faces universal poverty by the middle of next year," Wignaraja said. "That's where we're heading - it's 97-98% no matter how you work these projections."

The Taliban took over Afghanistan following President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw US troops from the region after two decades spent trying to rid the country of extremists. In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime held power, in 1996. The regime remained in power until 2001, after the US invaded Afghanistan.

After the US ousted the Taliban from power in 2001, Afghanistan made several developmental gains including the doubling of per capita income and an increase in the average number of years of education, Wignaraja said.

Over the past two decades, Afghanistan made significant economic gains that are now in danger of collapsing because of political instability. Afghanistan faces "a crush on local banking" because of the Taliban takeover, Wignaraja said. That instability is only worsened by the pandemic.

The Biden administration, in an effort to limit the Taliban's resources, froze nearly $10 billion in reserves in the country's central bank - most of which is reportedly held by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The move has been criticized as misdirected and will ultimately hurt Afghans more than the Taliban, Shah Mehrabi, a senior board member of Da Afghanistan Bank, told Bloomberg.

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The Taliban says it will not cooperate with the US to weed out the Islamic State from Afghanistan

The black flag of the Islamic State
The black flag of the Islamic State.
  • The Taliban will not cooperate with the US to eliminate extremist groups like the Islamic State from Afghanistan.
  • "We are able to tackle Daesh independently," a Taliban spokesperson said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
  • The comment comes as attacks from the Islamic State continue to rock the country.

The Taliban on Saturday said it would not cooperate with the US on eliminating extremist groups like the Islamic State from Afghanistan.

"We are able to tackle Daesh independently," Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

The remarks from Shaheen come just ahead of negotiations and talks between Taliban and US officials.

The talks, taking place in Qatar on Saturday and Sunday, mark the first time the two parties have entered direct negotiations since the US evacuation efforts from Afghanistan in August.

Shaheen, who is based in Doha, told the AP that the officials will discuss a peace agreement between the Taliban and the US. The agreement, signed in February 2020, stipulates that the US will begin withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban "will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa'ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies."

Concerns about terrorist networks being harbored in Afghanistan grew after the Taliban seized control of Kabul. Senior defense officials had warned that these groups could swiftly rebuild, finding a safe haven in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Days after Kabul fell to the Taliban - and as the US made a chaotic withdrawal from the country - Biden quickly downplayed terror threats from groups like Al Qaeda, saying the "threat from terrorism has metastasized."

"There's a greater danger from ISIS and al-Qaida and all these affiliates in other countries - by far - than there is in Afghanistan," he said in August.

The Islamic State has claimed a series of attacks in Afghanistan since the US withdrew its troops.

During mass evacuations in August, an explosion caused by a suicide bomber near Kabul's airport killed over 160 Afghans and 13 US service members. Islamic State's Khorasan branch, ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to US officials.

Biden, in a press conference following the attack, said, "It's in the interest of the Taliban that ISIS-K is not metastasized."

"We are counting on them to act in their own self-interest," Biden told reporters, referring to the Taliban. "And it's in their interest that we leave when we said we would. There is no evidence thus far from our commanders in the field that there has been collusion between Taliban and ISIS."

Since then, the militant group has claimed responsibility for a bomb detonation on Friday at a crowded mosque in northern Afghanistan. The AP reported that at least 100 people were killed or wounded in the attack, which targeted Shiite Muslim worshippers in the city of Kunduz.

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Goldman Sachs has reached a settlement with a former intern who accused the investment banking firm of fostering a ‘fraternity culture’

goldman sachs
  • Goldman Sachs and a former intern have settled, according to court filings from Thursday.
  • The intern accused the company of fostering a culture that promotes hazing and violence.
  • He says he suffered bleeding to the brain after an adviser punched him and headlocked him.

Goldman Sachs has reached a settlement with a former intern who accused the investment firm of fostering a "fraternity culture" that promoted hazing and violence.

Patrick Blumenthal was a Drexel University student who interned for Goldman Sachs in San Francisco beginning in September 2017.

Court filings say Blumenthal was assigned to work with a group that called itself "Team 007" and was led by wealth adviser Julius Erukhimov.

A complaint alleges that the bank "fostered a fraternity culture" complete with derogatory name-calling, physical altercations, and "rampant" drinking. It says Blumenthal was pressured to drink within his first week at Goldman despite being underage and was repeatedly warned early on that he would "take an infinite amount of shit from people." The filing says Erukhimov called the plaintiff a "pussy" for not drinking enough and even told Blumenthal to take Adderall so he could drink more.

The settlement, filed Thursday in the San Francisco Superior Court, does not reveal the specific terms of the agreement.

Perhaps the most damning incident in the lawsuit says Blumenthal was "forced to drink by his managers" during a "First Friday" bar event. The filing accuses Erukhimov of telling Blumenthal that he would "teach him how to drink" before punching him in his stomach and telling him to punch his manager back.

When Blumenthal said no, the complaint filing says, Erukhimov wrestled with him and shoved him from the bar to the outdoor patio. The adviser then allegedly choked Blumenthal for so long that he passed out and urinated on himself. Blumenthal came away from the incident with an injured head, the filing says.

He went to the emergency room days later, according to the complaint, where doctors told him he had bleeding to the brain.

Multiple Goldman employees witnessed the event, Blumenthal's lawyers say in the complaint filing. And they let Erukhimov drive Blumenthal to Erukhimov's home, where he took four pain relievers. At the adviser's apartment, Erukhimov allegedly threatened him, saying a relative would kill him if Blumenthal disclosed the events of the night to management.

Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to a request for comment asking for the details of the settlement.

Insider's Ben Winck contributed to this report.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene encouraged her Twitter followers to donate to a fundraiser for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted a fundraising link for Kyle Rittenhouse.
  • Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people during a Black Lives Matter protest in August 2020.
  • He has since become a symbol for right-wing gun-rights advocates.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Saturday tweeted a fundraiser link for Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, encouraging her followers to donate to his legal defense.

Rittenhouse, at 17 years old, was accused of killing two people during a Black Lives Matter protest in August 2020.

On August 25 last year, Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter from Illinois, crossed state lines to get to demonstrations over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Rittenhouse, who was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, fired at people at close range, police said, killing two and injuring one. Rittenhouse has since become a symbol for right-wing gun-rights advocates.

"This is where Kyle Rittenhouse's donations should be made so this young man can afford his legal defense when jury selection starts in just a few weeks," Greene wrote in the tweet.

Earlier Friday, the GOP lawmaker asked her followers to "remember" Rittenhouse.

"Democrats seeded chaos and stoked violence in cities all over the country for a year," she wrote on Twitter. "Billions in damage, devastating communities, lawlessness & the media cheered it on. A boy stepped forward when most grown men stayed home."

That post was flagged by Twitter as one "glorifying violence." The tweet, however, is still up because "Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

Greene's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, and being a minor in possession of a dangerous weapon. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His trial is set for November.

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The FBI charged an English-speaking narrator who voiced recruitment videos for ISIS, including one showing the decapitation of James Foley

ISIS militants.
  • Mohammad Khalifa, a 38-year-old Canadian, has been arrested and charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
  • Khalifa translated and narrated 15 videos for the terrorist organization in English.
  • A criminal complaint says ISIS recruited Khalifa to its media bureau because of his fluency in English.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A man who narrated a series of ISIS recruitment videos has been arrested and charged with conspiring to provide material support to the group, the Justice Department said on Saturday.

In a press release, the DOJ said the man, Mohammed Khalifa, is English-speaking and was recently transferred into FBI custody in Virginia.

He "not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence," said Raj Parekh, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS's online propaganda, Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS," Parekh continued in the statement.

Khalifa, 38, is a Saudi-born Canadian citizen who was an ISIS fighter, the FBI said. It's not clear how he will plead to the charges or whether he has an attorney.

A criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia alleges that Khalifa traveled to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS, which later recruited him to the group's media bureau because of his fluency in English.

"Khalifa played an important role in the production and dissemination of ISIS propagandaacross multiple media platforms targeting Western audiences," the DOJ said.

Media Khalifa worked "was aimed at enticing ISIS supporters to travel to ISIS-controlled areas to join ISIS or to conduct attacks in the West, including in the United States, on ISIS's behalf," according to the DOJ release.

Federal investigators found that he translated and narrated 15 videos for ISIS.

"These videos, containing English narration by Khalifa, were part of an ISIS media campaign promoting violence committed against U.S. citizens and other countries' citizens in order to incite further violence against the United States, allied nations, and their citizens," the release says. "The videos depict glamorized portrayals of ISIS and its fighters as well as scenes of violence, including depictions of unarmed prisoners being executed, depictions of ISIS attacks in the United States, and footage of ISIS attacks and fighting in what is described as Syria and Egypt."

Khalifa voiced a video that showed the decapitation of American journalist James Foley.

Other videos depicted footage of violence in European countries like France and Belgium. One of the videos includes a recording from Pulse Nightclub mass shooter Omar Mateen, the DOJ said, in which he pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization.

If Khalifa is convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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Whistleblower says Facebook enabled misinformation by eliminating safeguards too soon after the 2020 election, helping to fuel the Capitol riot, report says

Facebook campus
  • Facebook is mounting a defense against new allegations from a whistleblower, the New York Times reported.
  • The whistleblower says the company turned off crucial safety measures too soon after the 2020 US elections, like limits on live video.
  • These actions caused misinformation to spread quickly and gave rioters easy ways to plan the insurrection, the whistleblower is expected to reveal.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A former employee is accusing Facebook of relaxing election-related safeguards too soon, a move the whistleblower says contributed to the spread of misinformation and the lead-up of the deadly Capitol riot.

The New York Times reported the whistleblower, whose identity is not yet known, is planning to reveal the accusation on Sunday.

Facebook, in the meantime, is in preparation mode, according to an internal memo from the social media company obtained by the Times.

Facebook declined to comment.

The whistleblower says the company turned off some crucial safety measures like limits on live video too quickly following the 2020 presidential election, the Times reported. Actions like that caused misinformation to spread quickly and gave supporters of former President Donald Trump easy ways to plan the insurrection and tout false claims about voter fraud.

Facebook, which in the memo called the accusations "misleading," is mounting a defense.

"Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out," Facebook VP Nick Clegg wrote in the 1,500-word memo seen by the newspaper. "What evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization."

The whistleblower, who's expected to reveal their identity on Sunday in a "60 Minutes" interview, has been feeding the Wall Street Journal staggering information recently, including documents that revealed Facebook knew its apps and services could lead to body image issues for young girls. Facebook did not do much to reverse the adverse effects, the leaker has alleged.

The whistleblower also provided documents on a litany of other issues, including evidence alleging the company deceives the public and its investors about its campaigns to curtail or end hate, violence, and misinformation. Facebook was also almost booted by Apple's app store because human traffickers were actively using the site, the WSJ reported. Facebook said the Wall Street Journal reporting was "riddled with flaws."

Clegg's memo about the latest whistleblower claims was distributed to Facebook employees on Friday ahead of the expected CBS interview, the Times reported.

"We will continue to face scrutiny - some of it fair and some of it unfair," Clegg wrote in the memo. "But we should also continue to hold our heads up high."

Facebook declined to provide a copy of the memo to Insider. But it's available to read at the New York Times, which published it in full.

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Undocumented immigrants are forced to choose between deportation and abortion because of the restrictive new abortion law in Texas

Demonstrators hold banners in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.
  • Abortion seekers in Texas have been traveling out of state to get the procedure.
  • But some undocumented immigrants are stuck because of US Border Patrol outposts across the state.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Texas likely will have to choose between deportation and an abortion.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Since Texas rolled out its restrictive abortion law SB8, Texans have flocked to neighboring states to receive an abortion. But that option doesn't exist for a large swath of people.

Undocumented immigrants and people without proper paperwork have been hit especially hard by the law, which went into effect September 1.

The new legislation prohibits anyone from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which most people do not yet know they are pregnant. The law has forced some abortion providers in the state to turn away patients seeking the procedure.

And patients who've so far been able to travel out of state to bypass the law might generally be of higher socioeconomic status. People who are undocumented, reproductive rights experts say, have more difficulty obtaining an abortion outside the state than other groups.

Undocumented individuals in the southern portion of Texas are unable to travel out of state because of inland immigration checkpoints, located about 100 miles from the border between the US and Mexico. At these checkpoints, US Customs and Border Protection officers might ask for identification to prove citizenship. Individuals who don't have proper paperwork risk deportation, according to Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

Additionally, low-income people who may not have proper documentation like a valid driver's license or a US passport are unable to leave the state.

"No matter what your position on immigration is, by anybody's standards these are citizens who have every right to be here, but don't happen to have ever had any need for that kind of official identification," Ragsdale said. "And now they're up a creek as well."

The NAF, which created a designated hotline for people calling from Texas after SB8 passed, is "hearing from the poorest patients with the fewest resources," Ragsdale told Insider.

That includes the vast population of undocumented immigrants who reside in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

About 1.7 million undocumented people live in Texas, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute. Hundreds of thousands live in the Rio Grande Valley, which has been characterized as one of the unhealthiest regions in the United States due to a combination of high poverty and low education rates.

SB8 is forcing people to make difficult choices

For weeks, the NAF has fielded calls from overwhelmed Texans seeking an abortion, including patients who are undocumented and desperately in need of options.

"It's just routinely, day after day, people being panicked and despairing, and also furious," Ragsdale said.

One woman who called the hotline said she has a job and young children that she can't turn away from. "You could charter me a private jet and I would not be able to travel out of state for this care at this time," the woman said, according to Ragsdale.

People are encountering such competing priorities because SB8 has complicated the way they think and go about obtaining reproductive care. As a result, they're going to have to make difficult choices and determine whether an abortion outweighs other things like potentially facing deportation or losing their jobs, experts told Insider.

Already, people have been making those difficult choices. Some patients have crossed state lines to receive an abortion, said Dr. Kristina Tocce, medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

"I have seen patients that have expressed such fear, terror about traveling such long distances and about being pulled over and questioned," she told Insider, saying patients have had to take a serious look at the risks.

"What if I can't answer those questions appropriately and I get in trouble?" she added, recalling some of the worries people have expressed. "That additional fear of having an interaction with law enforcement during this journey is so hard."

The process is also stressful for out-of-state doctors who perform abortions.

With patients from Texas traveling long distances to get an abortion - either by driving for hours to get to a clinic, or flying in - doctors have to "make sure that patients get in and get out in a timely fashion so that we don't sabotage their flight plan," Tocce said.

"That's something that you don't typically deal with when you're providing services."

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The founder of a 1970s underground abortion network said Texas’ abortion law is like something out of East Germany or the Soviet Union

Protesters hold signs at an abortion rally at the Texas State Capitol in 2019.
Protesters against abortion restrictions gathered at the Texas State Capitol on May 21, 2019.
  • The founder of the Jane Collective slammed the Texas abortion law, saying it's emblematic of a "big brother state."
  • The Jane Collective was an underground abortion network in operation until Roe v. Wade.
  • The Texas abortion law says citizens can sue people facilitating abortions for $10,000.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Heather Booth, the founder of an underground abortion network that served more than 10,000 women before Roe v. Wade, said Texas' new abortion law reminds her of something out of an authoritarian regime.

Texas earlier this month passed a strict abortion law prohibiting anyone from obtaining the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which most people do not yet know they are pregnant. The law, which went into effect September 1, has forced some abortion providers in the state to turn away patients seeking the procedure.

One of the most striking facets of the law is that it incentivizes ordinary citizens to sue anyone who they view as "aiding and abetting" an abortion - a concept that Booth refers to as "a Big Brother state."

"It's what we hear about authoritarian regimes, in East Germany or so former Soviet Union," Booth said in an interview with Insider. "Encouraging that kind of social distrust and generating it, I found that particularly shocking."

East Germany's Stasi policing agency relied on hundreds of thousands of informants to snitch on friends and family members when they were breaking rules imposed by the East German government. The Soviet Union similarly employed a secret police system that encouraged informing on citizens. Organizers like Booth believe the practice is making a comeback in Texas.

Booth's not the only one upset at the policy. A whopping 81% of Americans who responded to a Monmouth University poll said they disapproved of the incentive, which awards citizens who file successful lawsuits with $10,000.

Booth told Insider she never meant to start the Jane Collective. It was supposed to be a single "good deed," she said. She found a physician for a friend "who was nearly suicidal," and then word spread from there. Suddenly, droves of women sought abortions, and Booth then realized just how much the network was needed.

"It was very demanding work. The focus wasn't a profit. The focus was on the lives of the women involved. The focus was building a caring community," she said.

"And so it was a great strain, I think, for the women who were involved, and a real sacrifice in order to care for the lives of the women who came through," she continued.

Though perhaps intended to curtail abortions, the Texas law has not stopped people from seeking and obtaining the procedure. Providers outside the state told Insider more Texans are flocking to their clinics instead.

These clinics continue to respond to the demand for abortions, and reproductive rights activists are fighting against the restrictive law. The Department of Justice has sued Texas over the ban.

After Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the Jane Collective disbanded, but Booth said the battle over abortion rights continues to be as critical as ever.

"We need to organize. We need to do ongoing organization and not just one-time mobilization," she said. "Build a permanent way to connect with people in families and communities, and help them see what's really at stake.

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