Any day now, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the most important abortion case in 20 years: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The case centers on a Texas Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, law which requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of outpatient surgical centers, and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Supporters say the law is necessary to protect women, but in reality, by restricting access to safe, legal abortions, the law is hurting women. In fact, since taking effect in 2013, the law has led more than 100,000 women to attempt home abortions, endangering their lives.
How could that happen? This unjust law has forced more than half of the clinics that provide safe and legal abortion in Texas to close, leaving the second largest state in the country with twelve clinics to serve its five million women of reproductive age.
For Black women and women of color, who are more likely to be poor, the restrictions could force them to have children they cannot afford because they may not be able to take time off from work, find childcare, transportation or have the financial means to travel more than 100 miles to the nearest facility. A Bloomberg article said it best: “At no time since before 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, has a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy been more dependent on her zip code or financial resources to travel.” If poor women are unable to access abortion services and have children they cannot afford, it’s likely they – and their children – will remain in poverty for the rest of their lives. A child born into poverty has less than a 1 in 10 chance of ever getting out.
Abortion is a constitutionally-protected right! And states have no right to make it more difficult or impossible for women to exercise that right.
The current vacancy on the Supreme Court makes this decision even more crucial. If the vote is split 4-4, the law remains in place. The irony is that the very people who claim to care about women’s health and safety have no problem jeopardizing both by forcing women to seek unsafe abortions or condemning them to poverty. This is deception in its most blatant and pernicious form.
Image source: supremecourt.gov
We ask the Supreme Court, how many women are okay to die? How many more should be sentenced to poverty?
If women’s health is truly a priority, find in favor of Whole Woman’s Health and ensure all women receive the abortion care they need and deserve.