Is it the end of abortion access in the south? It’s sure starting to look like it, as Alabama’s battle to keep its clinics open hits the courts this week. The TRAP bill, which requires clinics to rebuild to medically unnecessary standards, and mandates every abortion provider have admitting privileges within 30 miles of their clinic, is being challenged by local providers and the Alabama ACLU, who say obtaining privileges in the current environment is nearly impossible (the portion of the law dealing with building regulations is not being challenged, only the hospital privileges section).
The question in Alabama, much like the one in Texas with a similar bill, is how close does a clinic need to be before patients experience an undue burden. And, like Texas, the state is arguing that as long as there are clinics in other states nearby, access isn’t an issue. The state even argues that since a few of the clinics do already have privileges, that proves that getting them isn’t the burden that the providers are claiming that it is.
What the state is ignoring, though, is the harassment that the providers in the state are already facing, and how that harassment is spreading to the hospitals giving them privileges. In a two pronged attempt to close clinics, the providers are already the weak point that can be pressured by anti-abortion protesters. Throw in hospitals, who have no financial incentive in the exchange, as a necessary gatekeeper to access, and you will likely close every clinic in the state at some point.
Obviously, the answer isn’t “They can travel to another state,” either. The situation in surrounding states makes the push to close clinics even worse, as the closing compound on each other. A bill in Oklahoma that is expected to close all but one clinic is on its way to the governor to sign. One in Louisiana that should close all but potentially two clinics, and those both in the same corner of the state, is on its way to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal as well.
Although the focus remains on the south, this is a situation that has the rest of the country struggling as well. With Toledo, Ohio, on the verge of losing its last clinic, which would force patients to turn to Michigan for services, Capital Care Network is filing one more lawsuit against the state for rejecting its transfer agreement by saying the clinic isn’t allowed to cross state lines for an ally. Wisconsin will have its admitting privileges law heard in court next week, and a decision in favor of the bill will end most of the care in that state as well.
This week in misogyny on the campaign trail, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was greeted by a mass of “Abortion Barbie” posters around town during a Los Angeles fundraiser. The posters appear to have been funded by this woman, who tells local papers she’s “in the oil business,” but skips over her sideline as a right wing, Tea Party columnist from a pseudo Breitbart website. And the Susan B. Anthony List continues their trend of supporting male candidates who oppose female Democratic incumbents by choose two of their three key Senate races to be ones where they can potentially oust a woman from Congress.
West Virginia is considering holding a special session to once more pass a 20 week abortion ban for the state. The governor warns the legislators that if they do, he’ll just veto the ban again. Tennessee residents in a recent poll have stated overwhelmingly that they do not want to change the state’s constitution to make it easier for the legislature to enact abortion restrictions. In Arizona, reproductive rights advocates change tactics on a ban on off-label use of medication abortion, claiming it is letting pharmaceutical companies set state law.
One pastor claims that at some point people will tour abortion clinics like they tour concentration camps after the Holocaust. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter says he has a hot lead on some HIPPA violations at a Baton Rouge abortion provider, but doesn’t give any details, making it likely he’s drumming up some favorable press as a part of the Louisiana TRAP law push. Plus, a Kansas lawmaker is convinced that an IUD is murder, so no funding of long acting reversible birth control should ever be allowed. Ever.
In good news this week, Madison, Wis., canceled the speaking invitation of a “motivational speaker” who is associated with an anti-abortion group that harasses pregnant people outside of abortion clinics, and New Hampshire has officially passed it’s 25 foot buffer zone to protect health care providers and patients in the state from experiencing similar situations. That bill will now go to the governor for a signature.
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