Texas' New Abortion Ban Will Have Some Women Drive Up to Nearly 500 Miles for Appointments
The new average one-way driving distance to an abortion clinic would be 20 times the distance Texans previously traveled for an abortion after six weeks.With the new ban in place, the average one-way driving distance to an abortion clinic would increase from 12 miles to 248 miles, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research and policy organization.
Joy and sorrow. That was predictably the reaction of Texans on Wednesday — depending on where they stood on abortion — after the U.S. Supreme Court's silence allowed the toughest antiabortion law in the country to take effect. © (Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman via Associated Press) Demonstrators gather in the Capitol building in Austin, Texas, on March 30, when the state Senate was debating antiabortion bills. (Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman via Associated Press)
“Babies whose heartbeats are detectable are protected from abortion throughout the state of Texas. We are delighted by that,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Alliance for Life, which successfully lobbied for the law and 25% increased state funding for alternatives to abortion.
Here's how women in Texas can have safe abortions — legal or not
Thanks to medication abortion, people in Texas and elsewhere can have safe, self-managed abortions at home — legal or not. Saying illegal abortions are “unsafe” is not only incorrect in many cases, but detrimental to pregnant Texas women who are desperately seeking abortion services in the wake of these clearly unconstitutional bans.
Staff at abortion clinics in Texas, where California doctors sometimes fly in to help staff, were scrambling Wednesday to explain the new law to patients.
“We’re getting patients who are scared, confused, angry. They’re asking questions about, ‘Is abortion still legal?’ ‘Can I still get an abortion, am I too far along?’” said Vanessa Rodriguez, contact center senior manager for Planned Parenthood of Texas. “I have to tell them Texas politicians are taking away their right to make decisions they feel are right.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to act on an emergency appeal that would put the law on hold. A dozen other states have enacted similar bans, but they’ve been blocked before taking effect, making Texas’ law the most restrictive since the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.
New Texas abortion law pushes women to out-of-state clinics
Even before a strict abortion ban took effect in Texas this week, clinics in neighboring states were fielding growing numbers of calls from women desperate for options. An Oklahoma clinic had received more than double its number of typical inquiries, two-thirds of them from Texas. A Kansas clinic is anticipating a patient increase of up to 40% based on calls from women in Texas. A Colorado clinic that already had started seeing more patients from other states was preparing to ramp up supplies and staffing in anticipation of the law taking effect.The Texas law, allowed to stand in a decision Thursday by the U.S.
The law prohibits abortions once a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus, usually at about six weeks, before most women realize they’re pregnant. Providers fighting the law have told the courts it would eliminate 85% of abortions statewide, force local clinics to close and women to travel hundreds of miles out of state for abortions — or to try to self-induce a miscarriage. Under the law, residents can also sue anyone involved in facilitating abortions for up to $10,000. Texas Right to Life created a website for people to report those suspected of violating the abortion ban.
“This law opens up a bounty system, a vigilante-type system, that calls into question anyone who provides an abortion,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which operates four Texas clinics and had sued to stop the ban.
She said clinic staff rushed overnight to provide abortions to dozens of waiting patients before the law took effect Wednesday.
Abortion funds and beyond: Here are the best ways to help Texans
Inside Texas' devastating, near-total abortion ban and how to support Texans activists gather in the Utah State Capitol Rotunda to protest abortion bans happening in Utah and around the country, in Salt Lake City. About 39,000 people received treatment from Planned Parenthood of Utah in 2018 under a federal family planning program called Title X. The organization this week announced it is pulling out of the program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.
“Our waiting rooms were filled in all of our clinics,” Hagstrom Miller said, with staff in tears asking her, “What can we do?”
Outside their Fort Worth clinic, antiabortion protesters shined lights through the windows and called police twice to ensure the law was enforced, she said: “We were under surveillance.”
Texas had already enacted some of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions in recent years. Those measures were later overturned by the courts but still took a toll on abortion providers who fought them. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott managed to close Texas abortion clinics by declaring abortion among elective procedures suspended due to the pandemic. And in 2013, more than half of the state’s 40-plus clinics closed before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state abortion law.
Pojman said abortion opponents were monitoring legal challenges in other states that could affect the Texas ban. Later this fall, the Supreme Court is also expected to consider a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“We’re waiting to see how this shakes out in the federal and state courts,” he said, which could take weeks. “We hope that it will remain in effect.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Texas abortion law could hurt Republicans in 2022 midterm elections, experts say .
Many leading Republicans haven't given a full-throated defense of Texas' new abortion law, which experts say could hurt the GOP in the 2022 midterms.The violence that erupted in Kabul gave GOP officials an opening to attack the Democratic president, whose approach to the withdrawal was later met with disapproval in national polls. It quickly became political campaign fodder for Republicans who need a net gain of only five seats in the House and one in the Senate to recapture total control of Congress in next year's midterm elections.