As a federal appeals court begins to review the Texas abortion law that closed many clinics across the state, a doctor in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is speaking out.
“I hope our politicians are made aware of how many girls are self-aborting in the Rio Grande Valley. This law is backfiring,” said Dr. Lester Minto, owner of Reproductive Services of Harlingen.
He says women are getting misoprostol, an ulcer drug that can cause abortion, on their own, illegally, and self-aborting without the care of a medical professional.
Minto says he wears a bullet-proof vest to work and carries a .45 pistol. He told Aljazeera America that he has the FBI and a federal marshal on speed dial.
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"They're always waving their Bibles at me," he said of the protesters outside.
When he recently asked a patient what she would do if his clinic closed, she told him she would have to resort to something illegal.
Minto has promised to do whatever he has to do to keep helping women.
"Who said I'm not going to do abortions? You said that. I didn't say that. There's other names you can call it,” he said in October.
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There were 2,634 abortions performed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in 2011.
Demographers say the new law will keep 22,000 Texans from securing an abortion in 2014.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Monday, after a previous ruling found parts of the 2013 Texas abortion bill to be unconstitutional.
The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood have sued to block two provisions of the law: one requiring doctors who perform abortions have admitting priveleges to hospitals within 30 miles and another that restricts how doctors administers abortion drugs.
"Large parts of the state would no longer have an abortion provider," attorneys for the groups wrote in a Dec. 13 court filing. "Those health centers that could continue to provide abortions would be forced to serve more women with fewer physicians."
Texas is currently enforcing the law ahead of the appeals decision.