It has been a hectic week for reproductive rights. One day prior to restrictive abortion laws in Texas, Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the admittance of privilege provisions is unconstitutional on Oct. 28. Pro-abortion rights activists everywhere rejoiced; we take small victories as they come.
Those victories, however, are fleeting. First, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy officially took place in Texas on Oct. 29. According to the Guttmacher Institute, less than 2 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks. Therefore, it will not affect most women who seek abortions.
For those 2 percent of women, it will be particularly devastating, as those who seek abortions after 20 weeks usually deal with serious medical circumstances. Furthermore, medication abortion restrictions – which were found safe, albeit “off-label” – were also ruled unconstitutional unless the mother’s life is seriously in danger, which is a start.
But more bad news: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Yeakel’s conclusion and said that, “such [an admitting privilege] requirement would assist in preventing patient abandonment by the physician who performed the abortion then left the patient to her own devices to obtain care if complications developed.”
In other words, women should go directly to their physicians since neither women nor abortion providers should be trusted. The Fifth Circuit has a bad reputation among pro-abortion rights activists for a reason.
And it gets worse. Due to the admitting privileges requirement, which allegedly does not place a burden upon women seeking abortions, 12 abortion clinics have closed.
This restriction forces women to travel considerable distances in order to have abortions and heavily affects women who cannot afford to travel – Texas is a huge state.
To put this into perspective, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, 22,000 women will not have access to abortion clinics. For women in 24 counties in the Rio Grande Valley, the closest abortion clinic is 150 miles away.
Requiring abortion providers to have local admitting privileges is almost understandable, until you examine how restrictive it truly is. Admitting privilege laws are Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws.
Because it is extremely difficult to make abortion wholly unconstitutional, many anti-abortion politicians choose to make abortions extremely difficult to obtain or, rather, close as many clinics as possible.
Yeakel said that often, anti-abortion harassment drives abortion providers away. Protests outside of general hospitals are obviously undesirable, and often, admitting privileges are not granted for that reason.
Additionally, many abortion providers are flown in from out of state in order to avoid that same harassment, stalking and violence that general hospitals might be subjected to.
Furthermore, if there are only Catholic hospitals in your area, then you’re out of luck.
The lengths that protestors and politicians will go to in order to ensure women are kept from bodily autonomy are truly astounding.
Of course, I speak generally; not every person who seeks an abortion identifies as a woman because transgender men can get pregnant as well. Yet it is, more often than not, cisgender men – men who will never have uteri – who impose these restrictions upon those who seek abortions.
As anti-abortion Republicans continue to find any loophole possible to restrict women, it is most often poor or underprivileged women who are hurt the most.
Republicans encourage all fetuses to be carried to term in spite of medical complications, financial instability or other devastating circumstances. But really, we know Republicans are only anti-abortion until a mother needs welfare to support the child she was forced to have.