|The provision in the new abortion restrictions requires abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges in a hospital that is 30 miles away or less.
The justification for the provision is unclear: If anything went wrong with the procedure, a doctor's lack of admitting privileges would not present an obstacle to emergency care of the patient. The patient would be able to enter into a nearby hospital regardless of whether her doctor has admitting privileges.
Once more, to clarify: Patients in emergency rooms do not have to wait for treatment until their own doctors to show up, because hospitals are big buildings filled with doctors. The provision accomplishes nothing but preventing licensed abortion practitioners from caring for their patients.
Religious hospitals are reluctant to extend admitting privileges to a doctor who performs abortions because they don't want to stir up controversy, Rep. Jessica Farrar said at a recent panel on the restrictions. Even non-religious hospitals could refuse to give a doctor admitting privileges for any arbitrary reason.
That's why the Texas Policy Evaluation Project is expecting one third of Texas abortion clinics to close.
According to the study, only seven of Texas' 254 counties would have abortion clinics. Twice as many women would have to drive over 100 miles to have an abortion, increasing the risk that they will miscarry on their commute.
Even if the remaining clinics operated at full capacity, women could pay for an abortion, and travel was not an issue, clinics would not be able to meet the needs of all Texas women seeking abortions. About one in three would be turned away.
According to the lead investigator of the report, Joseph Potter, the lack of clinics would lead to delayed abortions and longer waits. Women who found out about their pregnancy early on may have to wait until the second trimester to get an appointment, eliminating the option for a pill abortion, which is less expensive and less complicated than a surgical abortion.
The 22,200 estimate is also a bit generous: It only accounts for the clinics closing due to admitting privileges. But two other provisions also go into effect on October 29: the 20-week abortion ban and the new rules for the abortion pill.
Women seeking a medical abortion would have to visit the clinic four times: First for a sonogram, then for the first pill, then for the second pill, then for a follow-up.
For a woman with low income living in a rural area, the new provisions could mean weeks of added time between the decision to have an abortion and the actual procedure. Between getting an appointment at a booked clinic, taking time off work, raising money for the procedure and a hotel room and childcare, driving for several hours to a clinic, and driving back, women will be forced to have abortions later in their pregnancy, or worse, seek unsafe flea market abortions.
On October 21, Judge Lee Yeakel will make a decision regarding a preliminary injunction on the laws. Hopefully the Texas Policy Evaluation Project study will demonstrate that the restrictions put an impossible burden on Texas women's constitutional right to an abortion.