WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday.
- The new law threatens access to abortions across the state.
- Abortion clinics in nearby states are already reporting increases in calls from women desperate for options.
A new Texas law that bans abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically around six weeks, went into effect on Wednesday at midnight after the U.S. Supreme Court failed to intervene.
Known as Senate Bill 8, it is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. What makes it different from other abortion laws is that it allows anyone to sue a person they believe is providing abortion or assisting someone in getting an abortion after six weeks.
Even before the law took effect, clinics in neighboring states were reporting growing numbers of demands from women desperate for options.
In Oklahoma, a clinic had received more than double its number of usual inquiries, with almost 70% from Texas. A Kansas clinic is expecting a patient increase of nearly 40% based on calls from Texas women.
Meanwhile in Colorado, a clinic had already started seeing more patients from other states and was preparing to increase supplies and staffing in anticipation of the Texas law taking effect.
Traveling to get an abortion may be difficult for women who would struggle to find child care or take time off work, and for those without legal U.S. status along Texas’ southern border.
Groups like Fund Texas Choice seek to expand a network that helps women in Texas and other states with restrictive abortion laws end their pregnancies in other states. When the law took effect, the organization received 10 calls from new clients on Wednesday. It usually handles 10 new cases per week.
As Republican governors have passed stricter abortion laws, women have been increasingly seeking out-of-state abortions. At least 276,000 women sought abortion outside their home state between 2012 and 2017.
The trend appears to have climbed up over the past year. Since March 2020, abortion clinics in nearby states started seeing an increase in calls from Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott banned abortions for almost one month under a COVID-19 executive order.
Planned Parenthood clinics in the Rocky Mountain region, which covers Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and southern Nevada, reported an increase of Texans seeking abortions — 12 times higher in March 2020. In California, 7,000 patients came from other states to Planned Parenthood clinics in 2020.
The number of Texans getting abortions in Kansas jumped from 25 in 2019 to 289 in 2020. The Trust Women clinic in Wichita accounted for 203 of those procedures in a three-month period.
Several Republican-led states have passed laws making it harder to access abortion pills and banning prescriptions through virtual health visits. Texas is considering similar restrictions, which could force women to get pills by mail for do-it-yourself abortions or other methods.
Source: AP News