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Women seeking a legal abortion may need to cross state lines in Trump’s America

“Well, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, 31, listens to a patient considering abortion during her ultrasound, in Fort Worth, Texas. Women considering abortion are required by the state to have a sonogram that they must be offered a chance to view. CREDIT: Jacquelyn Martin
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, 31, listens to a patient considering abortion during her ultrasound, in Fort Worth, Texas. Women considering abortion are required by the state to have a sonogram that they must be offered a chance to view. CREDIT: Jacquelyn Martin

President-elect Donald Trump will stay true to his promise to appoint Supreme Court justices that oppose abortion, he said in a 60 Minutes interview that aired on Sunday. If the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision were overturned, he said, control would go back to the states and women may have to go to another state to receive an abortion.

When asked whether Trump thought it was right that women may have to go to another state to get an abortion, he said, “Well, we’ll see what happens … It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.”

Women are already traveling between states to receive abortions, as many states have passed laws that effectively reduce the number of local providers. South Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and others have passed laws mandating waiting periods for women to get an abortion and allowing for surprise inspections of clinics, among other restrictions.

Forty-five states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure, and 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform them, according to The Guttmacher Institute’s latest report on state laws restricting access to abortion. Twenty-seven states require waiting periods for women so they can be counseled before receiving an abortion. And 18 states require an abortion to be performed in a hospital after a certain point in the pregnancy, all of which can prolong pregnancy and make it more difficult for clinics to operate.

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The Guttmacher Institute also found that 49 percent of women living in the Southern U.S. live in counties without an abortion clinic, compared to 53 percent of women in the Midwest and 38 percent of women nationally.

Texas has been a battleground for reproductive rights since lawmakers passed HB 2, severely limiting access to abortion in the state. The Supreme Court struck down two provisions of the law last summer. One provision required abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals, and the other provision required abortion clinics to contend with the same regulations as “ambulatory surgical centers.”

But even after that Supreme Court victory, rebuilding the network of clinics that have been shuttered through the years could be a long and expensive process.