News and media coverage of abortion regularly centers on the tense and often dramatic clashes of political candidates with opposing opinions rather than on the impact this continued push-pull has on women seeking reproductive healthcare. In an August 18 Upshot post, Soffen uses recent legislation in the state of Texas to illustrate the realities that women face when trying to obtain abortion care. Since the passage of House Bill 2 in 2013, abortion clinics throughout the state of Texas have shuttered because of their inability to meet strict and costly new requirements that the bill imposed.
The Supreme Court has allowed the remaining 17 clinics to stay open temporarily, pending further legal action. Using data from the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher Institute, Fund Texas Choice and Ibis Reproductive Health, as well as individual clinics, Soffen estimates the increase in barriers that Texas women may face if additional clinics are ultimately required to close. Further closures could leave as few as 10 clinics open across the entire state, leading to higher patient costs and longer wait times that could push women further into their pregnancies and beyond the 20 week abortion limit that Texas imposes. This could effectively force women who otherwise sought a first trimester procedure to delay because of inadequate funds or unavailable appointments, leading to an increase in later abortion. Soffen presents comparative maps of abortion cost and access throughout Texas under the current level of restriction and after further clinic closures. Although this data is state-specific, restrictions like House Bill 2 have been introduced in 28 other states and present barriers for women far beyond the borders of Texas.