The news out of Arizona is all good for those who are trying to end abortion — the number of women having abortions in the state dropped in one third for the month of September.
Anti-choice activists are calling the change a total success, and say that it is in large part due to the 24 hour waiting period, being forced to consult with a doctor before the abortion, and being offered an ultrasound of the fetus before the procedure begins. One woman who helps craft the state’s abortion restrictions told the Yuma Sun, “When women are given information about the gestational age of their preborn child, the risks of the abortion procedure, the alternatives that are available, more women choose life.”
There’s only one issue with that assessment — it’s totally wrong. Ultrasounds, the 24 hour waiting period, consultation, all of these previous restrictions were already in place since 2010, and although there was a small decrease in the number of women obtaining abortions, it wasn’t a significant one. Now, however, the number of women getting abortions went from 1069 in August to just 729 in September.
The big change? The elimination of services in multiple clinics across the state as a new law went into effect saying only physicians can administer drugs that cause abortion.
Planned Parenthood CEO Bryan Howard said, “The bottom line is we’ve lost the capacity to provide the care. This is not about the need going away.” Howard noted that the percentage of women who began seeking an abortion and actually went through with it remained unchanged. What changed instead was how many could be seen, how long of a wait it was to get an available doctor, and how far women had to travel to get the procedure done.
So what happened to the other women? Odds are that as the restrictions continue, more surgical abortions will be performed rather than abortion via medicine, increasing the cost for women as well as the physical recovery. And, since surgery takes longer, the wait list will continue to grow. Some women will leave the state to get an abortion.
And some will simply end up giving birth, despite not wanting to parent or being able to afford a child. Families too poor to afford a later procedure will instead have to pay for another mouth to feed, and force the other children to struggle more, too. Or women will purchase drugs over the internet and take them unmonitored, like the mother in Indiana. More will find other do-it-yourself abortion options. More will be scared. More will be desperate.
But the number of abortions in the state will continue to drop, and anti-choice advocates will continue to pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
Photo credit: wikimedia commons
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