Texas’ Anti-Abortion Law is Having a Predictably Terrible Effect on Women

new study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) has found that, thanks to Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion bill, HB2—parts of which are currently under consideration by the Supreme Court—women face a variety of obstacles that delay care and, in some cases, prevent them from obtaining a desired abortion.

The study found that after being turned away from a closed clinic, eight of the 23 women interviewed had to wait more than a week to obtain an abortion. Two of these women were not seen until after 12 weeks of pregnancy, despite initially seeking abortion care in the first trimester.

Two women in the study could not obtain an abortion at all as both lived in areas of Texas that were left without an abortion provider after HB2 came into effect, and both had initially sought services early in their pregnancies. They ended up continuing their pregnancies because they did not have the resources to travel to another clinic.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, a TxPEP investigator and professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, said,

The sudden closure of clinics created significant obstacles to obtain care, forcing some women to obtain abortion later than they wanted, which increases the risks and cost. … Other research has documented serious health and social problems for women forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy, including medical complications of pregnancy and intimate partner violence.

The law was passed in 2013 and requires that physicians have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility, bans abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is at risk or a severe fetal abnormality is detected (but not in cases of rape), restricts the use of medical abortions, and requires facilities that provide abortions to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). The law has forced all but 10 of the state’s abortion clinics to close.

Previous research from TxPEP indicated that abortions declined 13 percent in the first six months after HB2 was enforced, compared to one year prior. However, the proportion of abortions performed in the second trimester increased following HB2’s enforcement.

Said Dr. Grossman,

If HB2 is upheld and additional clinics close, we anticipate even worse disruptions in services than we saw in 2013 and 2014. In addition to confusion about which clinics are open and longer distances to get to these clinics, our research indicates that wait times to get an appointment will likely increase in most cities across the state, as they recently have in Dallas and Ft. Worth, because the 10 remaining facilities will not be able to meet the demand for services statewide.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mirasha licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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Lily Wujek is currently a student at Bennington College and an editorial intern at Ms.