Repro Wrap: End of the Year, End of the Clinics?

It’s the end of the year, and a number of reproductive rights reporters are doing year end roundups, best stories of the year and worst bills to make it into law. So, how was 2013 when it came to the right to decide if and when you want to be pregnant and give birth?

Pretty bad, frankly.

Not only was 2013 yet another year of massive abortion restrictions, but those laws that have gone into effect are doing their job as pregnant people are finding it more difficult to obtain services and dozens of providers are shutting down under onerous, unnecessary regulations.

Anti-choice groups are declaring it a year of victory. According to a report from Operation Rescue, who closely analyzes clinics across the country, almost 90 clinics closed this year, more than three times as many as shut down in 2012. In fact, since 1991, the group claims, nearly 75 percent of all clinics have shuttered, leaving fewer than 600 surgical abortion clinics left.

The clinic closures are even more devastating when you examine where the open clinics still exist. This year more states than ever are teetering on the edge of becoming completely clinic-free, with Missouri joining the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming with only one provider. Even more states have just two or three clinics, often in the same city, making their situations almost as dire. Of course, those are the states being targeted by recently passed TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, that are intended to close centers by creating requirements impossible for clinics to operate under.

As Amanda Marcotte points out at Slate, this is all part of a push to stop focusing on regulations regarding the ending of pregnancy, and instead insisting that pregnant people are in constant danger from the moment they enter a clinic. The shift is a purposeful one. As Jessica Mason Pieklo and I explain in our book on the red state war on abortion, switching abortion restrictions to a “women’s safety” issue allows far more onerous laws to be seen as constitutional, allowing anti-choice activists to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.

The Roe decision will turn 41 in just a few weeks. It’s becoming more and more uncertain if it will make it to a 42nd anniversary.

Some Rights Updates

Spain has decided to roll back the right to an abortion, and women’s rights activists have taken to the streets.

A West Virginia doctor accused of making up stories of treating abortion complications has now said that he reported them to the University, not the board of medicine, and that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Finally, a Virginia woman who gave birth to a stillborn baby is now being charged with drug possession, since she cannot be charged with harming the fetus under Virginia law.

Some Good News

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Salon gives us five reasons to feel good about 2013, and we ended the year on a high note when Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer spoke out about her own experience being sexually assaulted, testifying against the state’s new abortion insurance rider. The bill still passed, but advocates are already preparing to overturn the new rule with their own ballot initiative.

Another court has ruled that the Wisconsin admitting privileges requirement passed in 2013 is unconstitutional. Also, Nebraska will once again offer prenatal care to pregnant undocumented immigrants, overriding a previous veto by the governor, who believes that allowing those women and girls medical care for healthy births will draw more undocumented people to the state.

Looking to the Future

So what will 2014 bring? More clinic closures as TRAP laws and admitting privileges requirements start to be enforced, such as this new announcement that Fort Wayne, Indiana will no longer have a provider until the physician there can find a new back up doctor locally. Also expect a number of new tactics when it comes to clinic protests, while anti-choice activists look to the Supreme Court to decide whether religious speech and demonstrations are considered protected speech outside abortion clinics, rendering “buffer zones” unconstitutional.

Good-bye, 2013. Hopefully 2014 will be a year where we can increase access, not just watch it be whittled further away.


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

JoAnn Paris
JoAnn P4 years ago

What year are we in?? This is ridiculous.

Robert O.
Robert O4 years ago

Thanks Robin.

Sharon Perry
sharon L Perry4 years ago

Women need to be stronger than they are today with all this sex and sex .. Its way out of order.. There was a day when we waited till we married.. WHATs the rush.. Adictions..?

Donnie H.
Donnie H4 years ago

The religious fanatic cultists don't squawk about paying for Viagra or erectile disfunction treatments, as far as I know. I'm a women, I don't use that crap, so why do women have to pay for something they don't use. If men feel they shouldn't have to pay for contraceptives, or abortions for women, then women shouldn't have to pay for men's limp thingy treatments, either.

Those anti-women religious zealots are mentally off the beam, so why do they have so much power over women's health care options. Why does the government, courts, and others pander to them, and let them have their way with their lunatic ranting and raving against women living their own lives. Those bible-thumpers are sick control freaks, and need to mind their own business, and get the 'L' out of other peoples lives.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

I know you have been on these threads right along. You do not fund anyone's elective abortion.Get that strait Taxpayer funding does not pay for ANYONE"S ELECTIVE ABORTION. Title X funding is strictly monitored and is not used for abortions. Medicaid ONLY pays for medically necessitated abortions, in some states it only pays for medically necessitated abortions to save the life of the woman, if her health is in danger or her fetus shows grave anomalies that would not qualify. This data is readily available from neutral sources. You guys keep voicing these ideas that "you are paying for abortions" so " you get to dictate terms"....If you and your stripe were actually as involved in the prolife movement as you suggest, you would know these points of law . In the face of the rhetoric and persistent false data a theme arises -weather it's because it involves "your taxes" or your subjective sense of moral superiority, or First Amendment protection of YOUR religious or free speech rights or whatever, you guys keep asserting that you have some perceived right to make life altering decisions for total strangers. Please get over yourselves.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

Go to the websites of some of these antichoice outfits and see how far they go to try to obtain AND PUBLISH patient's personal data. These effers are so self righteous that they believe that their ends justifies pretty much any means. They happily violate the Constitutional rights of patients (most of whom are not there for abortions to begin with) but squall about THEIR first Amendment rights when they aren't permitted to harass, intimidate, bully and menace patients and medical personnel or impose their erroneous beliefs about various forms of contraception as law.

Jean Wall
Jean Wall4 years ago

Donnie H.- groups like Operation Rescue stand outside of clinics filming patients, taking license plate # and searching info, they film ambulances coming and going from clinics and attempt to film the patient being taken away,they file Freedom of Information Act suits to attempt to obtain private patient info then claim the govt is ' colluding with abortion providers" to cover up the "real numbers" of abortions, complications, etc. constitutional rights be damned. The fact that they are not entitled to that info in any event goes right over their thick heads. because Planned Parenthood receives Title X funding (PP is a 501c3, it s primarily supported by private donors and grants and offers sliding scale care is a NONPROFIT) but like many other organizations does receive gvt funding for family planning functions OTHER THAN ABORTION. The Hyde Amendment strictly segregates Title X funds and PP submits records quarterly to a gvt oversite body to confirm that funding is not being used for abortions. this includes patient records with names redacted.These are public records open to FOA inquiry. However, there is still enough info available in those records to cross reference that with the data gained by Operation Rescue's surveillance to sometimes identify patients. Go to the websites of some of these antichoice outfits and see how far they go to try to obtain AND PUBLISH patient's personal data. These effers are so self righteous that they believe that their ends justi

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

Surely you do have the right to stick your nose anywhere you want Freddy. Of course you do risk the potential to get it bent or bitten off. Almost ALL abortions happen BEFORE the 22nd week. of course you dolts are so controlled by your pundits you wouldnt know that because they wont tell you that part. How else could they get you all sanctimonious and pissed off if they told you the truth. How else could you JUDGE as you do if someone didnt tell you who to be pissed off at?? There are a THOUSAND things your ogvenrment spends money on that you have ABSOLUTELY NO F**KING SAY IN. Get over yourself. You live in a very complicated society. Your personal beieifs dont trump mine OR the governments or anyone else for that matter. If you think they do you are simply deluding yourself.

DIane L.
DIane L4 years ago

We need to get these people out of office!