Texas: Not Spongeworthy

Here's a little something to file under "unintended consequences" (maybe): We already knew that Texas's terrible 2013 abortion law, HB2, which placed strict new regulations on clinics that perform abortions, caused a lot of clinics to close. Hooray for life, right? Thing is, women still want abortions, because they are evil sex-having sluts, and so the wait times at the state's remaining 18 facilities providing abortions have increased to insane levels:

In some cases, women had to wait nearly a month to be seen. In others, clinics had to turn women away, since they had no available appointment slots open.

As a result, women are waiting longer to have abortions, resulting in a lot more second-trimester abortions, the kind that "pro-life" people especially detest. The data on increased wait times was compiled by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which predicts that if the Supreme Court upholds the most restrictive provision of HB2, the requirement that all clinics meet the same building codes as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), so many more clinics will be forced to close that the number of second-trimester abortions will double, from 6,600 in 2013 to a projected 12,400 annually. That provision of the law is currently on hold until the Supremes make a ruling.

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Funny thing: Making abortions harder to obtain doesn't make abortions go away. As Dr. Daniel Grossman, an OB/GYN and professor who worked on the Texas study, points out:

The increase in second-trimester abortion is concerning from a public health perspective, since later abortions, although very safe, are associated with a higher risk of complications compared to early abortions. Later abortion procedures are also significantly more costly to women.

With wait times already sharply increasing, Grossman predicted a significant decline in the availability of abortion services -- which we should point out are supposed to still be legal -- in the event of an adverse Supreme Court ruling:

If the non-ASC clinics close, it seems unlikely that the remaining ASCs—especially the ones that already have long wait times—could increase their capacity to meet the demand for services across the state

Sucks to be you, ladies! Guess you'll just have to have those babies you don't want to have, because God and/or the Texas legislature wants it that way. And of course we can look forward to more women taking matters into their own hands and risking their lives, or, if they're lucky, surviving a home-induced abortion and going to prison for it. Or maybe the Court will overturn Roe altogether, and we can return to the glorious days of women traveling to exotic distant lands for abortions.

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As of early 2014, Grossman and his team found a little more than one fifth of abortions were performed at ASC clinics. If HB2 is upheld and all the non-ASC clinics are forced out of business, the nine ASCs will have to handle all the abortions for Texas, with women having to travel up to 150 miles to a clinic that's still open -- if, of course, it's possible to make an appointment.

“We suggested that it would be difficult for those facilities to increase their capacity sufficiently to meet the demand for all abortions in the state, while proponents of HB2 said that there was no reason to believe that they could not meet this demand,” the report states.

Dr. Grossman also interviewed women who were forced to wait to get abortions -- if they could get them at all -- and discovered that for some reason, they didn't seem to appreciate what the state government was doing to keep them safe:

“It was difficult seeing these women late into pregnancy who really didn’t want to be. They were so angry at the state for making the decision for them,” he said. “I can only hope we won’t be seeing more bills taking away these rights.”

That last bit just sounds so hopelessly naïve, Dr. Grossman. This is Texas we're talking about, where freedom is reserved for chemical companies, not some dumb woman who thinks she has a right to decide whether to give birth or not.

[Texas Policy Evaluation Project via ThinkProgress/ Mother Jones / Lucky Girl]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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