Jun 6, 2016
In Texas, abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health has sued to block a new law that would force the closing of the state’s clinics that provide abortions. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case this month, its first major ruling on abortion in two decades, with wide implications in nine other states, including Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin. In all these states, Republicans sought to please an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian electoral bloc by passing laws that effectively outlaw abortion.
The Texas-style restrictions require extensive renovations that are so expensive they force the clinics to close their doors. And they require doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges to hospitals, when many hospitals in rural areas refuse to grant them.
The laws already passed in many states have resulted in steep drops in the number of clinics that provide abortions. In Texas, the number of clinics has fallen from 41 to 19 in the last three years. In Louisiana there are only four left; in Arkansas three. Missouri and Mississippi have one clinic each. The result of such laws is to deprive over half the women in the South and Midwest of any medical facility providing abortions in their own county.
Working class women, especially those living in poverty, are left with extremely harsh and dangerous choices. Either they have to wait too long for an appointment in the few clinics in their region – meaning they are forced into more expensive and potentially more difficult surgical abortions.
Or, they are forced to travel long distances, often to other states many hundreds of miles away. Since the Texas law passed, women have had to drive four times farther for abortion services, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. Driving or taking buses such long distances has a rippling impact for working women. They must arrange their work schedules, child care, travel and finances in order to see a doctor. In the event they need more than one appointment, many women sleep overnight in their cars or outdoors in the facility parking lot because they can’t afford a motel room. Others drive hundreds of miles home and back again for their next appointment. More and more laws are passed requiring two or more appointments.
As the result, many women try to induce an abortion themselves – which is, obviously, highly risky and dangerous. A recent study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project from the University of Texas estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas tried to end their pregnancies at home over the past five years. Some used the medication misoprostol; others used various herbs, vitamins and homeopathic remedies, or they had someone punch them in the stomach, or they resorted to alcohol or illicit drugs or hormonal pills. In some cases, vicious prosecutors then put them on trial for “murder.”
It’s not bad enough that state legislatures are forcing working class women back to the barbaric conditions of what were thought to be bygone days. But the sanctimonious hypocrites – usually men – who have passed these laws actually dare to say they are doing it to protect women’s health.
No, they are costing untold numbers of women their lives or their health. And that is, pure and simple, murder.