Texas’ abortion restrictions could force the closure of 11 of 15 of the country’s last remaining abortion clinics by the end of 2021 and cost the state more than $1.4bn in economic activity, a new report suggests.
The alarming report, conducted by the Center for Reproductive Rights, found that 25 percent of Texas’ maternal deaths could be prevented by providing higher-quality prenatal care.
Abortion restrictions were part of Senate Bill 5, a 2011 abortion bill that was included in the package of measures that’s introduced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The law required clinics to meet stringent safety standards such as having a “bedside manner,” monthly reporting for compliance and seeking a transfer agreement with a hospital within 30 miles, in order to receive Medicaid funding for facilities.
Texas is one of only five states to apply the requirements to abortion providers, which excludes facilities that perform only abortions and those owned by women’s health centers.
Abbott has already signed three bills into law affecting clinics, which he hailed as part of his “abortion reforms.”
“Once again, the abortion industry is under attack in Texas as Governor Greg Abbott signs into law three key components of the sweeping SB 5 legislation,” said Deborah Delisle, policy specialist with the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The measures approved yesterday will shut down all but two facilities and will cause women in need of an abortion to travel hours for services they already have the right to receive.”
Since the law was enacted, only three facilities have applied for compliance with the 2012 regulations, with only one now operating in Texas—an abortion clinic in San Antonio. The requirement to file monthly medical records will force another abortion clinic to stop performing abortions, resulting in the closure of 11 clinics.
Studies have shown that, at the time of the law’s passage, unsafe abortions were responsible for around a quarter of all maternal deaths in Texas, accounting for about 10 percent of the 914 total maternal deaths the state reported.
Dr. Gary Freeman, director of the state’s Department of State Health Services (DSHS), told the United Nations that the law was necessary to ensure abortion was performed safely, noting that the lack of standards for abortion providers led to clinic inspections lacking “accuracy, frequency, and consistency.”
“The closure of abortion clinics will directly affect nearly 9,000 women seeking high-quality health care,” Delisle said. “Texas women will be forced to suffer because of their state government’s obstruction of their ability to make decisions about their health care.”
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