Inter-city travel has become much harder for rural residents in west Texas. As the Texas Tribune reported, the private company that took over travel from cities like Kerrville has dropped its services to focus on larger and more profitable metropolitan areas in the state.
For some residents who relied on buses to travel to larger cities for a myriad of services (including the airports), this presents an obstacle that seems, for the moment, insurmountable. In the case of women in the area who are already facing clinic closures, the impacts on access to reproductive healthcare services could be devastating.
More on the ripple effects of bus route closures on reproductive justice access for rural women below the jump.In the Planned Parenthood vs. Abbott lawsuit, rural women's lack of access to important reproductive healthcare services is cited as one of the direct impacts of House Bill 2:
This will be devastating for Texas women, particularly low-income women, women who are victims of rape or abuse, women who need abortions later in pregnancy, and those who live outside of major metropolitan areas. As a practical matter, women living west of Interstate 35 and East of El Paso will not have real access to abortions. At least 1 in 12 women will have to travel more than 100 miles to obtain abortion care. As a result, some women will be unable to obtain abortion care.
Stephenville City Manager Mark Kaiser brought up the uneven impact this will have on residents in the area, saying “Other than personal vehicles, we don't have any way to get people to the Metroplex.” For rural women without their own cars, inter-city bus services are vital for traveling to receive these services. Without the buses, some women will be out of legal options.
Throughout the opposition to the increased abortion restrictions found in HB 2, the reality faced by poor and rural women across the state has been front and center. Reduced access to transportation options is only one example of how these women, who already face larger obstacles to access, are facing the worst of the law's effects.