Yesterday afternoon, the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas can begin enforcing the provision of HB 2 that requires abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers.
Additionally, the two clinics in the Rio Grande Valley that had been allowed to remain open will now close.
Only seven abortion clinics that are also ambulatory surgical centers remain open in Texas, which means that there is only one clinic for every million women of childbearing age in the state.
Previously, a federal court blocked the ASC requirement, stating that the provision would “create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion.” Low-income people of color, people in rural areas, and queer or non-gender conforming people will be particularly affected by the provision, as most ambulatory surgical centers are in metro areas and along the I-35 corridor.
Let’s not tiptoe around the issue: Women will die because of this ruling. Abortion restrictions don’t prevent abortions. They prevent safe abortions. Before Roe v. Wade, women still terminated pregnancies—but illegal, unsafe abortions led to an estimated 5,000 deaths annually.
By some estimates, one in three Texans seeking an abortion will not be able to obtain a safe, legal procedure. That means that this law functionally bans abortion for 22,200 women and trans men who will need abortions, most of whom live in rural or poor areas.
That’s because more than a million Texans must now travel 300 miles round trip to reach an abortion clinic. Due to waiting periods and unnecessary additional visits, people seeking abortion will have to fund not only the procedure but also childcare, transportation, and several nights in a hotel. And that’s assuming that they can get an appointment in the first place. The remaining clinics in Texas will soon be overbooked, potentially forcing women to wait until their second trimester to get an appointment.
Women seeking abortions will be forced to turn to other options. Many have already turned to obtaining misoprostol from flea markets to self-induce abortion and crossing state lines to find another clinic.
According to a statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, the San Antonio clinic will remain open and continue seeing patients, and the new Whole Woman’s in New Mexico will open soon.
“We ask that you stand with us and stand united,” Hagstrom Miller said. “Make no mistake—we are more determined, bolder, and stronger than ever. We will take whatever steps are necessary to preserve women’s access to safe abortion care in Texas.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s decision and expects the Supreme Court to hear the case “sooner rather than later.”
What you can do:
- VOTE. If you are not yet a registered voter, the deadline to register is this Monday.
- PROTEST AT THE CAPITOL TODAY AT NOON to show anti-choice legislators that we won’t back down.
- DONATE TO AN ABORTION FUND. Lilith Fund and the Texas Equal Access Fund need your support now more than ever.
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.