Conservative media have championed the recent spate of state-restrictions on women's constitutional right to abortion access as necessary to protect women's health. But a new report reveals the heavy toll the laws have taken on women's health clinics around the country.
After the 2010 midterm elections, state legislatures passed a record number of restrictions on abortion, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Twenty-four states enacted 92 provisions restricting access to abortion services, a number which tripled the former record set in 2005. The next year, 2012, was the second-highest year on record for new abortion restrictions, with 19 states passing 43 provisions limiting women's access.
Fox News and conservative media championed this flood of abortion restrictions, claiming the measures are necessary to protect women's health and denying that the laws would affect women's access to clinics. In June, Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley claimed that reproductive rights groups' fears over Texas' infamous SB5 bill -- predicted to force most of the state's clinics to close -- were exaggerated and “ridiculous,” because, as Powers stated, “I don't think that many clinics are going to close.”
But according to a nationwide analysis released August 26 by the Huffington Post, at least 54 abortion providers in 27 states have closed their doors or ended abortion services since 2010, and “several more clinics are only still open because judges have temporarily blocked legislation that would make it difficult for them to continue to operate.” The report found that the states which enacted severe new abortion restrictions and slashed funding planning funding also lost the most clinics -- Texas has lost nine clinics, or more than 20 percent of the state's total abortion facilities.
The state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute explained to Huffington Post that this level of clinic closures is “incredibly dramatic.” She went on, “What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change ... [is] so different from what's happened in the past.”
Rather than protecting women's health, these new restrictions -- and the striking number of clinic closures they force -- place women in severe danger. Requiring women to travel long distances in order to exercise their constitutional right to abortion means procedures will often be delayed, which puts women's health in jeopardy.