Claims that it’s about “protecting women” have always been baloney.
In their successful push this summer for strict new regulations on abortion facilities and the doctors performing them, proponents of the legislation said it was needed because conditions at existing facilities made it unsafe for women seeking to terminate pregnancies.
But a Texas Tribune review of state inspection records for 36 abortion clinics from the year preceding the lawmakers’ vote turned up little evidence to suggest the facilities were putting patients in imminent danger. State auditors identified 19 regulatory violations that they said presented a risk to patient safety at six abortion clinics that are not ambulatory surgical centers in Texas. None was severe enough to warrant financial penalties, according to the Department of State Health Services, which deemed the facilities’ corrective action plans sufficient to protect patients.
And between 2008 and 2013, the Texas Medical Board, which regulates the state’s physicians, took action against just three doctors who performed abortions — all of them for administrative infractions that did not involve criminal practices or late-term abortions.
“The point of this legislation was to make abortion inaccessible. It wasn’t about safety,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four abortion clinics and an ambulatory surgical center in Texas. “Because there is no safety problem around abortion in Texas.”
During his research on the impact of Texas’ 2011 family planning financing cuts, Dr. Daniel Grossman, a principal investigator on the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Public Policy Evaluation Project, said he found no evidence that Texas’ licensed abortion facilities had unsafe conditions. The one safety issue he has identified is the practice of abortion self-induction — where women without easy access to abortion clinics try to terminate the pregnancy themselves.
“This additional burden is just going to be too much for some women,” Grossman said. “I think it’s very, very likely that abortion self-induction is going to go up and that’s definitely going to be bad for women’s health.”
Seven percent of women whom the researchers surveyed at abortion facilities in Texas attempted self-induction before going to the abortion facility. That rate was higher, 12 percent, in cities along the Texas-Mexico border. In comparison, a 2010 research article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found 1.2 percent of women surveyed at abortion clinics nationally tried to self-induce an abortion.
The researchers identified 76 family planning clinics that closed since 2011 because of lost state financing, and 45 percent of women surveyed at abortion facilities said they were unable to access their contraception of choice in the three months before becoming pregnant.
“These abortion restrictions are going into place at a time when the whole family planning safety net really has been completely dismantled,” said Grossman. “In the middle of that, now women are going to find it harder and harder to access abortion.”
The only surprise in this to me is that the anti-abortion zealots feel the need to disguise their intentions by making phony claims about being concerned about women’s health. It’s only a mild surprise, since that does poll better, but still. It’s a fundamentally dishonest argument, and in a state that’s been busy forcing women’s health clinics out of business, it’s a deeply cynical one, too. BOR has more, and Nonsequiteuse has something you can do to help fight back.