The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana ruled to uphold a Texas law which requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of outpatient surgical centers. This means abortion clinics must meet numerous structural requirements, rooms and doorways must meet a minimum size and all doctors must have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The Religious Right has won a victory, but at what cost?
This will successfully shut down most abortion clinics. Before this law was passed, Texas had 40 abortion providers which has now dropped down to 16. With the stay on this law being lifted, that number will continue to shrink.
Obviously this means it will be significantly harder to get an abortion in the state of Texas, but, beyond that, what is the true effect on women?
Like so many laws that aim to protect the fetus, they ultimately only affect the poor. Poor women in Texas had few enough options, and now will face even fewer. Women who don’t have the funds to travel will be required to give birth to a child they may lack the resources to care for.
The State of Texas argued that these measure were put in place to help women and protect them from potential health risks related to abortion, when, in reality, “Fewer than 1% of all U.S. abortion patients experience a major complication and the risk of death associated with abortion is 10 times as low as that associated with childbirth.”
These types of restrictions work only to limit women’s bodily autonomy and increase—even if inadvertently—the growing divide between the rich and poor. Wealth women will be able to travel and abort a nonviable fetus. Poor, lower class women will have to wait for miscarriage or stillbirth. Wealthy women will have access to dignity and respect when it comes to their reproductive choices, while poor women will be told they have to have their fetus.
Even if their intent is truly good, their execution is ultimately flawed. By removing poor women’s access to abortion, the state opens itself up to health risks and increased likelihood of poverty among mothers and children. The only people who benefit are fetuses, and we can’t even agree if those are people.