Since the passage of HB 2, the Texas bill that not only banned abortion after 20 weeks post conception but also made it impossible to run a clinic that provides abortions unless it is a qualified ambulatory surgical center and houses a doctor with admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the building, the situation for those seeking an abortion in the state has grown dire. With the announcement of even more clinic closures, there are now less than 20 clinics operating in the state, and, by the time all of the rules and regulations are put into effect, that number is expected to be a mere six clinics in just five cities serving the entirely of Texas.
With clinic access non-existent now in areas of the state like west Texas or the Rio Grande Valley, and expected to get even worse by November, terminating an unwanted pregnancy is now more than just going an having a procedure done. It’s arranging the multi-hour drive to the nearest city (sometimes out of state), planning the overnight stay to adhere to the 24 hour wait after an ultrasound, if necessary (and it usually is). It’s arranging care for other children, if she has them, which many do. It’s a massive amount of financial investment, planning and coordinating all in order to access a legal procedure that is still at this moment considered a constitutional right.
Most people would call that a ridiculous amount of hoops to jump through all in an attempt to force a pregnant person to fail and then carry a pregnancy to term. The Daily Caller? They call it an “abortion vacation.”
Writing a willfully offensive and ignorant column about the trials of those who are now finding it almost beyond their reach to enact their legal right to obtain an abortion, Daily Caller columnist Eric Owen reports on a new effort by a Texas group to try to help low income pregnant people get the resources they need to make it to a clinic. Fund Texas Women is a non-profit headed by a college student that helps pregnant people navigate the landscape to obtain an abortion in or out of the state, based on their gestation and procedure needs, coordinating whatever bus or air travel and hotel stays are necessary but often financially out of reach for these patients.
“Since its founding on Nov. 8, the organization has spent approximately $10,000 to send 35 women on abortion vacations,” writes Owens in an article entitled “Abortion Tourism Is Now a Thing In Texas.” ”The group pays for airfare, bus tickets, hotel accommodations and various other expenses.”
Yes, apparently being forced to leave your home for two days at a minimum in order to get an abortion while relying on financial help from outsiders, is a “vacation” now. A fun, relaxing jaunt.
The “abortion tourism” line has sadly become a common one as clinic access grows more and more limited in the country. Albuquerque, N.M., the home of only three clinics that provide the third trimester abortions often sought by families seeking to terminate fetuses with severe anomalies, was designated the “late term abortion capital of the world“ by abortion opponents seeking to pass a 20 week abortion ban by popular vote last fall (the vote failed). “Abortion tourism“ has also long been used as a term in Europe, where women from countries like Ireland who have full abortion bans in place are forced to go to neighboring countries like England to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Ending a pregnancy is not a vacation. It is currently a right, not a luxury, and it is a right that should be available to any person, regardless of whether or not that person has the financial means to access it. It is not a weekend on the beach at an all inclusive resort. It is not a whim, or something people do because they have some spare time and a little extra cash in their bank accounts. It is a medical procedure that pregnant people think seriously about, and chose because they do not want to remain pregnant or give birth.
What Owens inadvertently admits with his callous rhetoric, however, is the real situation in Texas. Abortion is, for a large number of pregnant people, as inaccessible as it is for those who live in countries where the procedure is illegal. Texas has done exactly what it intended to do — ban abortion in the state, even if, at this point, the people they have mostly banned it for are the very poor. As the majority of the clinics in the state continue to close, that group of people it has been made illegal for will grow. By the end, abortion will be accessible only for those who live in the five cities that have clinics left, or those with the financial resources to get there. For everyone else, it will be like Roe was never decided in the first place.
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