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These Texas women struggled to get an abortion before the new law. They say it would be even harder now.

Abortion rights advocates say the law disproportionately affects minors, low-income communities and people of color.
Image: Veronika Granado, top left, and Kenya Martin, bottom right, got an abortion in Texas before its new restrictive abortion law took effect.
Veronika Granado, top left, and Kenya Martin, bottom right, got abortions in Texas before its new restrictive abortion law took effect.Shahrzad Elghanayan / NBC News; The Washington Post

Standing in front of a judge at 17, Veronika Granado said she felt numb as she asked him to grant her a judicial bypass, which would allow her, as a minor, to get an abortion without parental consent or notification.

For Granado, who had just graduated high school, terminating the pregnancy would allow her to continue her education without being a young mother at the same time.

"My future was on the line," Granado said. "He could have easily said no, and that would have been devastating."

Now 22 and a third-year student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Granado said she was lucky to have obtained an abortion in 2017. Pregnant minors in Texas now face a much different landscape after the state's new restrictive abortion law, known as S.B. 8, went into effect on Sept. 1.

The law prohibits abortion once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. Because many women don't know they're pregnant at that point, abortion advocates have said the law effectively bans abortion statewide. A federal judge has scheduled a hearing Friday to consider a request from the Justice Department to issue a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the law.

It was already difficult to obtain an abortion in Texas before the law went into effect, though. In recent years, lawmakers had passed multiple restrictions curtailing abortion access, including a 24-hour waiting period, state-mandated counseling, an ultrasound and a requirement that minors get permission from a parent or guardian or receive a judicial bypass.

And under the new law, advocates say it's "nearly impossible" to obtain care in state. Given the time and financial resources needed to travel out of state for care, the restrictions disproportionately affects minors, low-income communities and people of color.

Rebecca Parma, a senior legislative associate at Texas Right to Life, said the group is “celebrating the fact" that S.B. 8 is in effect.

"We're excited to see that it's saving hundreds of pre-born lives every day — this was one of our priorities during the legislative session," she said. "There has been an incremental approach over the past several decades to try to chip away at Roe v. Wade and save as many lives as possible in Texas, and to change the cultural conversation, so highlighting the injustice and violence of elective abortion, while also highlighting the humanity of the preborn child."

At a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday on abortion laws, Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said her mother was told it was highly unlikely that she or Cammack would survive if her mother gave birth.

“You can imagine the pain that she felt when her own family told her that she needed to abort her child," Cammack said of her mom. "But because of her strength, she chose life."

When Alyssa, 29, found out she was pregnant in 2016, she quickly faced an "uphill battle" in obtaining an abortion in Texas. A Fort Worth resident who requested that only her first name be used to protect her privacy, Alyssa said barriers, like scheduling multiple appointments and long wait times, led to a delay in accessing care.

"It's not like I was able to walk into a clinic the day I found out and get an abortion. I live in a pretty large city, and we only have a few abortion clinics," said Alyssa, who added she was "racing against the clock" to get an abortion.

At the time, Alyssa was a low-income student working full-time, which meant that she had to take unpaid time off to obtain care. The lost wages and the cost of the abortion put a strain on her financially, she said, citing that it took her almost a month to obtain a medication abortion.

"It was really difficult to get an abortion then," she said. "If this happened now — and not in 2016 — just from that fact alone, I would have been immediately ineligible to get an abortion in Texas."

Similarly, Kenya Martin, 46, who got an abortion in 2001 in Houston, said the procedure cost her hundreds of dollars because her insurance didn't cover the procedure. As a result, she had to use the money she had saved for rent and monthly utilities.

"I didn't have the resources or financial support — I had just had a baby the year before, and I was already juggling the cost of a new child and my bills," Martin said.

In Texas, abortion patients cannot get coverage in all private insurance plans, including through the health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, except in cases of life endangerment or severe health conditions. A majority of patients pay for their abortion out of pocket; on average, the cost is about $500.

When Martin gathered enough money to pay for her abortion and schedule a second appointment, she was beyond six weeks pregnant.

Her abortion enabled her to "provide a secure lifestyle" for her daughter despite the upfront financial cost.

"If I had continued to have more children, as a single mother, we would have lived a life of struggle," Martin said.