In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the legality on Texas HB2, a bill which requires all abortions (both medical, or early terminations which utilize the abortion pill, and surgical) to be done in ambulatory surgical centers or for abortion doctors to have access to hospitals. These additional requirements have been found to be unnecessary and unsafe barriers for typical abortion procedures. In fact, these requirements have caused abortion clinics all over the state of Texas to close, leaving the entire state with only 10 clinics to serve all of its citizens.
Laws like HB2 are dubbed “TRAP” laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. HB2 was proposed by the Texas government as a bill that would ensure abortion care is “safe,” yet providers have found that the bill actually regulates clinics out of business with requirements that are unnecessary or financially impossible for clinics to meet.
The Republican Party in Texas has openly stated its aversion to making abortion available for the women of Texas and its willingness to regulate the number of clinics down to zero. An additional rule proposed in 2015 makes it more difficult for minors to obtain a judicial bypass of parental permission to obtain an abortion.
The documentary Trapped records the difficulties that abortion care providers in Texas have meeting the regulations under HB2. Doctors struggle to make ends meet for their clinics while dealing with harassment from protestors and little government support. Most distressing for these doctors, however, are the constraints these new laws place on women and girls seeking access to abortion care.
The closure of abortion clinics increases the volume of requests for the remaining clinics in the state, and this increased volume of patients creates a long waiting list for a time sensitive procedure. The decreased number of clinics and heavy regulation of abortion may also cause women to go out of state to receive care—that is, if they can afford the costs of the procedure itself and traveling, which means missing work and staying overnight in a hotel.
Ultimately, these laws make it much more difficult for women with low incomes and, ultimately, women of color , to access abortion care due to the economic strain that these rules cause. Women of all incomes and backgrounds must have the right to say when they become mothers.
TRAP laws are dangerous barriers to abortion care and may increase desperation for women in need, causing them to turn to more unsafe methods of pregnancy termination. These laws may also make unwilling or incapable parents out of women, which could subject both mother and child to a more stressful and difficult life. Thus, family planning is an important right for women, who are often sole or primary caregivers for children in the United States. This means all women, red state and blue state, should have access to contraception, abortion care, and scientifically accurate information about their bodies and sex.
Photo Credits: Flickr, Heather Ault