Texas’s new strict legislation is already forcing women to leave the state in order to receive medical services in neighboring states more sympathetic to their desires to obtain an abortion.
The new abortion laws in the state require doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s health is in immediate danger, and, beginning next year, “all abortions must take place in a facility that meets the infrastructure requirements for an ambulatory surgical center,” according to ABC News.
While the laws only recently took effect, many speculate that they will drastically affect the amount of abortions that occur throughout the state of Texas. Despite the average of 80,000 abortions Texas women undergo each year, only about six of the current abortion clinics throughout the state meet the new requirements mandated by the legislation.
In a profile of a woman who suffers from a life-threatening genetic disease that was forced to flee to New Mexico in order to carry out an abortion due to her partner leaving and her increased cost of medical bills, Al-Jazeera explored how the new laws are affecting women throughout the state.
Florence, a 24-year-old Houston woman, suffers from a life-threatening genetic disease. She has been in and out of hospitals her entire life and has a pile of medical bills she can’t pay. Her partner left after she recently became pregnant, saying he couldn’t handle her constant illness.
Then Florence, who did not want to be identified by her real name, learned at her second-trimester ultrasound that her fetus, which had inherited her disease, would never be healthy either. She decided her only option was to terminate the pregnancy before her child could suffer as she does.
“It broke me into pieces,” she told Al Jazeera.
But then Florence had another problem.
By the time she made her decision to have an abortion, there were no clinics in Texas that could help her. On Oct. 29, a new law went into effect outlawing abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. In the wake of the ruling, many abortion clinics in Texas started canceling appointments — even turning away one woman at the door. Suddenly Florence had no choice but to travel out of state for the procedure she desperately wanted.
Vicki Cowart, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, operator of a Planned Parenthood surgical clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, informed the publication that typically 5% of their patients travelled across the border from Texas to receive an abortion. In October, after the legislation was enacted, however, that number rose to 14 percent. Cowart and other operators of abortion clinics close to the Texas border are likely to continue monitoring those numbers as the new legislation becomes a reality for the women throughout the state.
Supported by socially conservative Governor Rick Perry, Texas’s legislation is one of the strictest anti-abortion laws throughout the county, largely spearheaded by religious belief despite old Supreme Court cases such as Roe v. Wade already proving that the practice is constitutional. Other states wishing to enact similar legislation likely have a close eye on Texas as the large state endures its new laws.