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

hb2new 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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1381239_10151915699953058_1358770217_nLily Wujek is currently a student at Bennington College and an editorial intern at Ms.

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    Comments

    1. Nathalie Uribe says:

      Throughout the world abortion remains illegal in over 100 countries; As a result millions of women endure gender inequality in regards to their reproductive health and rights. After reading the blog, I agree with the Texas Policy Evaluation study, which has demonstrated that the anti-abortion law in Texas has caused many women to continue with unwanted pregnancies, due to long waits and limited clinics that are legally able to perform abortions. This issue will increase the health risks of women whom get an abortion further along their pregnancy. Moreover, the fact that the proportion rates of abortion in Texas increased during the second trimester, proves that anti-abortion law may affect access, but some women are still willing to undergo the procedure at all costs. Consequently, women can experience maternal mortality, due to unsafe abortions and health issues caused by the pregnancy. This study is very useful, informative, and gives some insight on the negatives effects on banning abortions; In fact, countries that illegalize abortion have the highest rates of abortions done annually, whereas countries that legalize abortions have the lowest rates. In essence, women’s health should be the government’s main concern, and not by taking away their basic right to choose whether to have children.
      Nevertheless, Texas is one of the few states that have anti-abortion laws in the United States. This illustrates the intersectionality women experience in different cultures depending on the state or country. Additionally, factors that affect women’s reproductive health and choice vary among: religion, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, government, customs, geographic barriers, and patriarchal family systems. However, I do believe the Texas Policy Evaluation study is a representative of the other illegal abortion states, or countries. Similarly, most countries or states that illegalize abortion also restrict access to contraceptives, education, and health clinics. Thus, the pregnancy rate increases and so does the abortion rates because most pregnancies are unintended. The government should focus more on providing financial funds towards women’s health in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STD, and abortion rates. Overall, abortion is a major reproductive health and choice issue that women are still having challenges in overcoming, but thankfully activists and organizations are helping to find a resolution.

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