Anti-abortion laws in the United States are becoming controversial on the issue of clinic availability and expenses, especially in those regions that are already facing limited reproductive health-care services.
Reportedly, the Texas’ Omnibus Abortion Bill, also called HB2, has triggered the closure of more than half of the 42 clinics previously operating in the state.
The newly-constituted law in Texas requires abortion clinics to satisfy hospital-level operating procedures, which makes the smaller clinics expensive for women seeking termination of undesired pregnancy.
The contention is whether the law unconstitutionally restricts a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The United States Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the Texas abortion law, whether it imposes too much of a burden on women seeking an abortion.
HB2 is one of the most anticipated cases in the United States owing to its restrictive nature, and arguably the most significant reproductive rights case the court has reviewed in decades.
The anti-abortion law apparently has the opinions of judges deeply divided since the decision could affect thousands of women. There is possibility that the court might send the case back to lower courts to again review the impact of the clinics shutdowns.
Beyond Texas, 13 other states have enacted similar laws, and opponents have filed petitions in courts to block the restrictions. Democrats and reproductive rights organizations are opposing the anti-abortion laws in court on many grounds.
HB2 not only makes abortion less accessible and more expensive, it also restricts the kind of medical procedures available. Reportedly, women are now being forced to adopt surgical procedures instead of the pill-based abortion they preferred. Texas abortion laws now require women to collect abortion-related prescription in person, which they could avail through a telephone call earlier.
A report released by the Center For Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinics, highlighted the risk.
“If the Supreme Court declines to review the case and allows the challenged provisions to go into effect, the state would be left with as few as 10 clinics to serve a population of 5.4 million women of reproductive age.”
The closure of abortion clinics in Texas has made women wait longer during medical emergency and others are traveling hundreds of miles, sometimes beyond the state for the procedure. A study shows that at least 100,000 Texas Women have attempted self-induced abortions due to the impact of clinic shutdowns.
Reportedly long drives and packed waiting rooms have become the norm for the women in Texas, and cases of second-trimester abortions are rising because of the wait for an appointment.
“Texas lawmakers defended the provisions saying the abortion laws are intended to improve the safety of the clinics, and despite the closure of many clinics, abortion is legal and accessible in Texas,” The New York Times reported.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry who signed the law while he was in office wants it upheld by the court. He is currently running for the Republican nomination in 2016.
Meanwhile New Mexico is becoming the new abortion magnet. “The number of out-of-state women coming here for abortions has doubled in the past three years. Nearly 20 percent of the roughly 4,500 abortions performed in New Mexico in 2014 involved women from out of state, according to state Department of Health data,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.
In contrast to Texas, New Mexico follows a liberal approach to abortion and is one of the few states in the United States that permits abortions at any stage of pregnancy.
Should the Supreme Court uphold the new legislation, it would mean more long-distance travel, weeks of delays, overnight stays, higher expenses, and unwanted surgeries added to the list of millions of women across the United States.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]