The War on Women raged on this summer, as state legislators focused on limiting access to abortion by pushing through legislation specifically intended to target clinics. Women’s health advocates warn that 2013 has been one of the worst years for reproductive freedom in recent history — while the anti-choice community is celebrating its recent gains, pointing to the fact that “abortion clinics are closing at a record pace.”
Indeed, the following five states enacted tough new abortion restrictions this summer that are already compromising women’s access to reproductive care:
Republican lawmakers passed a package of stringent abortion restrictions in the middle of July, and abortion care in the Lone Star State has been thrown into question. Abortion clinics are bracing for widespread closures since 90 percent of the facilities in the state don’t meet the tough new standards. And some abortion doctors are already leaving Texas, explaining that they can’t work in a state where their employment status is so uncertain. Ultimately, Planned Parenthood is being forced to reshuffle its clinics to try to preserve health care access for as many Texans as possible. On Friday, the women’s health organization announced that it would be closing one of its health clinics in Midland and working to open a new one in Mission by next month. “We are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to high-quality, affordable health care in Texas,” Jeffrey Hons, the president of Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas, said in a statement. “In the months ahead, we will continue to see the effects of the dangerous policies Rick Perry and his allies have pushed through.”
At the end of July, North Carolina’s governor broke his campaign promise to avoid enacting new restrictions on abortion and signed a stringent measure that threatens to close some abortion clinics in the state. Around the same time, the state’s health department began cracking down on abortion clinics, suspending their licenses for minor infractions that didn’t lead to suspensions in the past — leading to speculation that anti-choice lawmakers have spurred a politically-motivated crusade against clinics. The Planned Parenthood affiliate that operates in the state has already pledged to do whatever is necessary to stay open and serve patients. Nevertheless, the abortion providers in the state are nervously waiting to see what will happen now that the legislature has given health officials more power to impose unnecessary regulations on clinics. “They could do anything,” Paige Johnson, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, told the Fay Observer. “The quickest way to shut down access to safe and legal abortion is to impose these standards across the board.”
At the very end of June, Ohio passed a two-year budget that includes several attacks on reproductive health, including harsh restrictions that may force abortion clinics to shut down. The new law is already having its desired effect. One abortion clinic has already closed, and another one is facing the same fate. Soon, the city of Toledo may not have a single abortion provider. “For the Kasich administration to use their power to close legal providers of health care because of a political ideology is an embarrassment to a state that has some of the top medical facilities in the world,” Kellie Copeland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, recently told the Toledo Blade.
The far-right “personhood” movement, which seeks to ban all abortions by defining life as beginning at conception, is preparing for a comeback in Colorado. After repeatedly trying and failing to add a personhood amendment to the state’s constitution, abortion opponents are gearing up for yet another fight in 2014. Continually battling the personhood movement is taking a toll on the women’s health resources in the state. Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood announced that it will need to consolidate two of its health centers in the state, partially because it has been expensive to fight against repeated personhood ballot initiatives. “We know our communities rely on us to be a staunch advocate for women’s health as well as a health care provider. Both roles are important. yet this responsibility has finally led our organization to make difficult yet strategic decisions,” Vicki Cowart, the president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, explained in a statement.
At the end of July, the only abortion clinic in the Green Bay area announced that it will close its doors, and it’s being sold to another provider that doesn’t plan to continue offering abortion services. And thanks to stringent new abortion clinic restrictions recently enacted by the GOP-controlled legislature, women’s access to reproductive health care may soon be limited even further. Under the new law, two additional clinics will likely be forced to close, requiring women to travel hundreds of miles to end a pregnancy. “When abortion is inaccessible, women’s health suffers and women die,” the president of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Teri Huyck, recently pointed out to a local NBC affiliate. Fortunately, Wisconsin’s new anti-abortion law — which was rushed through the legislature in just nine days without any support from Democratic lawmakers — has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.