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3 States Trying To Follow In Texas’ Footsteps And Shut Down Abortion Clinics

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"3 States Trying To Follow In Texas’ Footsteps And Shut Down Abortion Clinics"

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Protesters outside of an abortion clinic

Protesters outside of an abortion clinic

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Texas isn’t the first state to shut down abortion clinics, and it won’t be the last.

A stringent new law in the Lone Star State requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges with a local hospital, a medically unnecessary requirement that’s often impossible for doctors to comply with. Since hospitals are often wary to make partnerships with abortion providers, these state laws are effective tools to drive clinics out of business. Texas’ law has forced dozens of clinics to close, particularly in rural and underserved areas. After the most recent round of closures, the second-largest state in the country now has a 400-mile swath without a single reproductive health facility that performs abortion services.

This past summer, the fight over Texas’ law captured national headlines — and inspired anti-choice lawmakers in other states to adopt the same strategy. Here are the other places that are currently advancing Texas-style restrictions to shutter abortion clinics:

1. Louisiana

Louisiana made headlines earlier this week for a piece of legislation that may require the state to maintain a database of the women who have had an abortion, either surgically or medicinally. The practice of keeping these type of sensitive medical records is not entirely uncommon. Reproductive rights advocates on the ground point out that the package of proposed abortion restrictions also includes other problematic restrictions, like requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges with a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Another proposed measure threatens to dissuade doctors from performing abortions by requiring them to publicly register as an abortion provider with the state, something that could leave them vulnerable to harassment.

The state’s Department of Health and Hospitals has already attempted to regulate abortion clinics out of existence by imposing complicated and burdensome new rules on abortion providers with little public notice. After massive public outcry, those rules were rescinded early last month. But now, through the state legislature, Louisiana could still accomplish the same ends with a different means.

This attack on reproductive rights isn’t a surprise to the abortion providers in Louisiana, who expected that Texas would serve as somewhat of a model for their own anti-choice lawmakers. Last month, before the current legislative session again, activists in the state were already expecting to have to combat an admitting privileges bill. “We anticipate the same laws that were proposed and passed in Texas,” Amy Irvin, a founding board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, told ThinkProgress last month, “and women are already under siege.”

2. Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers are currently advancing a measure to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a hospital within a 30-mile radius. The bill easily cleared the state Senate on Wednesday, and now heads to the GOP-controlled House. An identical House version passed that chamber back in February.

There’s already an admitting privilege requirement on the books in Oklahoma — it just doesn’t specify that hospitals must be within 30 miles of the abortion clinics that are seeking privileges. But Rep. Mike Ritze (R), who introduced the House version of the new bill, believes it’s necessary to clarify the distance requirement and has boasted that his bill is modeled after Texas’. Last month, during a floor debate over the legislation, Ritze claimed his legislation “adds another protection not only for unborn but for women.”

“If this bill passes it could potentially shut down two of the three providers in the state, reducing access to safe, constitutionally-protected abortion to women across Oklahoma,” Jill June, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, warned in a statement released immediately after the Senate vote.

3. South Carolina

South Carolina lawmakers are taking up several anti-abortion bills on Thursday, including a proposed bill to require doctors to have admitting privileges. That exact same measure failed last year because reproductive rights supporters pointed out it would force the state’s abortion clinics to close, effectively amounting to a back-door ban on the procedure. But that hasn’t dissuaded state Sen. Lee Bright (R), who says he’s been inspired by Texas to try and replicate “what has worked to prevent abortion.”

The state’s legislative process allows bills to be easily blocked in the Senate, and pro-choice lawmakers in the state have already promised to fight to prevent the new abortion restrictions from passing.

Just like Louisiana and Oklahoma, South Carolina already has several other regulations on the books that are specifically intended to make it difficult for clinics to stay open — a strategy known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP. The state requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers, which requires them to make unnecessary renovations like ensuring that clinics’ hallways are wide enough to accommodate a stretcher.

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