Texas Passes Restrictive Abortion Law: That Happened

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ColumnTexas passed an abortion law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and requiring new restrictions that will close almost every clinic in the state.

Despite Wendy Davis’ best efforts, and outrage in Texas and around the country, the state has passed a restrictive, controversial abortion law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy—which is terrible, but given that only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks, it’s not even the worst part of the new legislation.

The ambulatory surgical center regulation requires that all clinics performing abortions become designated as ambulatory surgical centers. This will cause the shuttering of all but five abortion clinics in the entire state. The five are all located in larger cities, which will limit access to abortion and healthcare for rural women, those without transportation options and those who don’t have the money to travel.

But, as with most things in life, there’s a bright side. In a post on the Dallas Observer blog, Amy Silverstein suggests great abortion road trips. The obvious concern is for those women who can’t afford a road trip. Gas is expensive, as you know, and we haven’t all upgraded to the Volt or Leaf.

I have a solution: For the people who can’t afford to travel, perhaps a walkabout. You know what’s great after an abortion? A 200-mile walk through Texas. Boots on, ladies!

Sadly, I am unable to dream up a viable option for women who can’t take time off for a walkabout. But, luckily, being pregnant, giving birth in a hospital and choosing to raise a child isn’t a big time or money suck.

This loss for Texas women (and all women given the shitty precedent it sets), might be a gain for lady-hater Rick Perry’s sister. Salon reports that she is an executive at a company that operates ambulatory surgical centers. Well, well, well. Seems Rick’s sis may stand to make some cash on this whole thing. The only problem is, most of the clinics that are going to be closed don’t have money for the upgrades and licensing it would take to get ASC cred. Maybe they didn’t think this through.

If you think not living in Texas means this law won’t impact you, think again. While there will be a court challenge on this ruling and it could get shot down (Wendy willing), New York Times writer Ross Douthat makes an interesting case about the global impact of restricting abortion, examining restrictions across the globe to see what happens when abortion is hard—or impossible—to obtain easily, affordably and legally.

Abortion News From Across the Country:

Illinois: A decision by the Illinois Supreme Court means that starting August 15, Illinois’ parental notification law must be followed. The state will notify a minor’s parents 48-hours before the procedure, unless there’s an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which I’m hoping for.

Mississippi: There’s one abortion clinic in all of Mississippi. One. Read Lori Gregory-Garrott’s account of what it means to work at the Last Clinic. Thank you, Lori!

Missouri: Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R) got all pissy on Facebook and replied to a comment stating that abortions to save the life of a mother are “a matter of convenience.” He’s right in that being alive is very, very convenient.

North Carolina: The North Carolina House passed the motorcycle abortion bill this month restricting access to abortion—oh and increasing safety measures for motorcyclists, which makes tons of sense. The bill would allow the state’s health department to create temporary rules for North Carolina’s abortion clinics as it sees fit (a helmet on every fetus!). The bill also prohibits government-administered insurance plans (including the Affordable Care Act) to pay for abortions and would require a doctor to be present when a patient is administered abortion-inducing drugs—which will cause the same widespread closures we may see in Texas.

North Dakota: Thankfully, a federal judge has temporarily blocked a law banning abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant. The judge said that this law is, “clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority.” Also, kids that attended  the North Dakota State Fair got a creepy treat in their candy bags: a toy fetus.

For more information, check out this clip of  Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro Choice America, discussing what happens after a 20 week abortion ban goes into effect.

Image: Ann Harkness

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