Since the clinic shutdown law passed in 2013, Texans have been traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines, and waiting weeks to get an abortion, if they could get one at all. The impact was catastrophic: Some women waited long as 20 days to access abortion in the state.
Meanwhile, a November 2015 study found that at least 100,000 Texas women between 18-49 had tried to end a pregnancy on their own without medical assistance at some time in their life. Abortion self-induction in Texas appears to be more common among Latinas near the U.S.-Mexico border and among women who report barriers accessing reproductive health services.
What The Impact of a Bad Decision Could Have Been
The stakes in this case cannot be overstated. If the Supreme Court had upheld Texas’ clinic shutdown law:
- 5.4 million Texas women of reproductive age would have been left with at most nine health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in the entire state — down from about 40 health centers before HB2’s passage.
- Wait times at Texas’ remaining health centers could have increased dramatically, forcing longer delays that could double the percentage of abortions in the second trimester.
- The number of women who self-induce abortions could have increased. Women are more likely to take matters into their own hands if they encounter barriers to reproductive health services.
If that’s not an undue burden, we don’t know what is.