88th LegislatureHealthcareIssuesStatewide NewsTexas Senator Files Bill to Hold Credit Card Issuers Liable for Abortion Transactions

Abortion-inducing drugs are a priority for Texas lawmakers, and this bill would hold credit card companies liable for processing those transactions.
March 9, 2023
A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill to hold credit card companies criminally liable for processing transactions related to abortion-inducing drugs.

State Sen. Drew Springer (R-Munster) filed Senate bill (SB) 1440, which prohibits transactions by credit card issuers who “process a transaction for the provision of an abortion-inducing drug by courier, delivery, or mail service.”

The pregnant women for whom the drug is intended would not be held liable under these provisions. 

An “abortion-inducing drug” includes those both prescribed and off-label. The bill lists the Mifeprex regimen, misoprostol (Cytotec), mifepristone, and methotrexate as drugs commonly used to induce abortions. An exemption included are drugs that may be known to cause an abortion but are prescribed or administered for other medical reasons.

More than half of all abortions in the United States are medically induced with abortion pills, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice policy think tank. The abortion drug regimen most commonly used is a dual protocol of mifepristone and misoprostol.

The Texan Tumbler

A credit card issuer that violates this proposed law would be held liable in civil action as a felony.

Abortion pills have come under recent scrutiny in Texas with one state lawmaker seeking to restrict online access to abortion-related material and an Amarillo judge who could issue a ruling that could suspend nationwide the mailing of abortion pills.

Credit card issuers like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover have all set limits on a variety of different transactions that customers can make.

Marijuana, being illegal in many states in the country, puts credit card companies in a difficult situation. Discover and American Express do not allow marijuana purchases for either medical or recreational use, while Visa will allow purchases of the drug where it is legal.

The New York Times has suggested restricting the ability of individuals to purchase firearms through limits on credit card companies. This would require said companies to work in conjunction to process payments through merchants, allowing them to decide whether or not to do business with an individual merchant.

Credit card companies set up relationships with merchants and set rules for how cards can be used at those establishments, but the companies do not approve or reject payments on individual items.  When a transaction is from a retailer, the credit card company sees only the retailer and not the individual item purchased.

If a credit card company wants to limit or stop the purchase of individual items from a merchant, like firearms or abortion pills, then the credit card issuer would have to decide to not do business with the merchant at all. A credit card company could implement a procedure whereby a retailer would have to set up a separate checkout and payment system so those items would be tracked, which would require strict compliance for those items.

Credit card companies allow merchants to use “data appending” services, which share personal data from the customer with the merchant. The data is then moved to a data broker company that collects, processes, and analyzes the data, which can then be sold or shared with public and private companies.

Regulations for how customer’s private data can be used was first written out in the Gramm-Leach-Bailey Act of 1999, which requires financial institutions to fully explain data and information-sharing practices to customers, and requires companies to allow customers to “opt-out” if they do not want information shared.

The details on how an individual or the state would track or monitor credit card companies are not present in Springer’s bill.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.