Imagine, for a moment, that you go to bed one night and forget to lock your front door. As a result, you now have an intruder in your home. This intruder is violent and threatens to alter the entire course of the rest of your life. You try to call your local police and they decide not to help you because, after all, you left the door unlocked so it’s your responsibility. Had you been more responsible there would be no intruder.
Imagine that the only police officer actually willing to help you lived in a completely different state. What are you going to do? Well, you know that your shady next door neighbor owns a gun and if you try hard enough they might let you borrow it and you can handle the situation yourself. Granted, shooting someone is illegal and the gun might not be registered but we’re talking about life and death here. What’s worse, you only have a limited amount of time to process all of this information and make a decision. Tick, tock. What are you going to do?
This is what it’s like to need an abortion and have the laws of your state working against you.
Abortion has been widely debated at every turn and once again the Supreme Court will be handed another law that challenges women’s access to safe and legal abortions. HB2, a Texas law, will be heard on March 2nd, and if upheld by SCOTUS, then all but 10 abortion providers in the entire state of Texas will be shut down.
More so, other states would have a constitutional green light to copy this kind of law nationwide. In a state as large as Texas having only 10 locations in which to access a safe and legal abortion means either traveling to a far city or a completely different state. This inconvenience is a direct attack on low income women and an imposition to women who medically need to terminate a pregnancy quickly to save their own lives.
So what exactly is in HB2? Well HB2 has been broken down (for those of us who aren’t lawyers) into the four basic restrictions it would implement.
- *Abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. This provision will probably result in the closure of most clinics in Texas, since nearby hospitals do not have any incentive to allow an abortion provider to admit patients.
- Abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization are prohibited, except in cases of a severe fetal abnormality. The 20-week ban also does not apply in cases where the post-20-week abortion is necessary to “avert the woman’s death or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition,” in which case the abortion shall be performed “in the manner that, in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.”
- Abortion-inducing drugs must be used according to FDA regulations (with the exception that dosages can be given according to American Congress of OBGYN Practice Bulletin). FDA regulations require that women visit the doctor in person for each of the two doses of the abortion pill, resulting in two separate doctor’s visits.
- After taking abortion-inducing drugs, there must be a follow-up appointment within 14 days. This brings the total of pill-related appointments to three. (Of course, the Texas 24-hour waiting period law still requires that women living within 100 miles of their nearest abortion clinic wait 24 hours between her mandatory ultrasound and her actual abortion, meaning four doctor’s appointments for most women seeking the abortion pill.)
Okay, so in the case of medical abortions — which are the least painful method and most private because the pills can be taken at home — a woman would have to go to a clinic that is close to a hospital four separate times. That’s four appointments to pay for, most likely out of pocket, and let’s not forget about paying for the transportation to these appointments if you’re not lucky enough to live next to the 10 spared locations. If this were to happen in New York, the travel alone would cost around $22, which for some people is the difference between eating dinner tonight or waiting another day. Medical abortions already cost upwards of $500.
So what is this really about? Is Texas trying to monetize women’s health or has religious blindness climbed so far into the legislature that they can’t tell up from down?
There is no sound legal cause for limiting a woman’s right to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare and despite everyone’s feelings, abortion is part of that.
Image: Planned Parenthood
* All information provided in the numbered list courtesy of Fund Texas Choice