The first wave of clinics closed or stopped providing abortions due to a provision of the law that came into force in November 2013 and required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. [...]The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in April and foes are seeking a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas isn't the only place where these new TRAP laws, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, have been passed. Since 2011, legislatures in 30 mostly Republican-controlled states have passed more than 200 abortion restrictions, about equal to the total for the previous decade. In January 2013, according to Michael Keller and Allison Yarrow, there were 724 abortion clinics still in operation. A two-thirds drop from the 2,176 licensed clinics in 1991. Now, the total number, according to various sources, has dropped below 600.
Some things to note: Before the state required admitting privileges, 13 cities had abortion clinics. Now, just seven do. After September, only five Texas cities—Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston—will will have abortion clinics. Women in the Rio Grande Valley must now travel to Corpus Christi, a two-and-a-half hour drive, for abortion services. Soon, there won't be a single clinic providing abortions west of San Antonio.
In addition to making it harder for abortion providers to operate, the law also bans abortion 20 weeks after conception and forbids the use of medication to terminate pregnancies. At the time of its passage, anti-abortion lawmakers claimed that tougher requirements for abortion providers were necessary to safeguard women. But mainstream medical groups, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, argue that requiring admitting privileges doesn't increase the level of care.
Those 30 states have made it tougher and more expensive for women seeking to end their pregnancies not only by passing the TRAP laws but by requiring women to wait 24 hours or longer after making an appointment for an abortion, requiring ultrasounds, mandating face-to-face "counseling" (often by people who oppose the procedure and lie about its physical and psychological impacts) or the reading of brochures written by abortion foes. All this often means personal and financial hardship.
The class-warfare aspect of the forced-birthers' assault is a key element of their strategy. Affluent women will, of course, always find a way to obtain an abortion. The impact of the abortion-curtailing laws—from medically unneeded procedures like ultrasounds to medically unneeded specifications for clinic design to medically unneeded requirements like hospital admitting permissions for abortion providers—falls hardest on the less well-to-do, the rural and poor. Add in bans on abortion coverage by private health insurance providers and by the new health-insurance exchanges mandated under Obamacare and that class warfare is heightened.
None of these new laws make abortions safer. None of them protect women from bad doctors. None of them have anything to do with women's health. They are all about control.