Thursday, July 24, 2014

Safe abortions decline in Texas; late-term and unsafe ones rise

When abortions are outlawed, only outlaws will have abortions.  The actual effect -- not the Lege's intended one -- is already showing up in the statistics.

A new study released Wednesday reports in the six months since Texas' new anti-abortion law took effect, the number of legal medical abortions has dramatically declined while the number of second-trimester abortions has risen, suggesting to researchers that women are being forced to wait for the procedure.

HB-2 limits medical abortions, a non-surgical method, by restricting the time window during which the drug can be prescribed from 9 weeks to 7 weeks, and by forcing patients to return to a medical provider to ingest the medicine in front of a doctor four separate times rather than taking the regimen at home something not all women can afford financially or logistically. The law also requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which many hospitals can't accommodate, and bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

HB-2 went into effect last November and has already had a dramatic impact on women's access to reproductive healthcare in the months since.

Of the 41 clinics open in May 2013, only 20 remain open, causing the number of women of reproductive age living more than 200 miles from a facility to jump from 10,000 to 290,000, according to the report.

Medical abortions, which allowed women seeking abortion early in their pregnancy to avoid an invasive and potentially traumatic surgical procedure, have dropped by 70 percent under HB-2.

Legal abortions have decreased 13 percent, 9,200 fewer than last year, and researchers, noting surprise this number wasn't higher, credited the state's network of non-profits and abortion funds helping to finance women's reproductive healthcare with mitigating the decline.

Many of the state's Republican leaders are going to celebrate this news. That would be a grave mistake on their part.

Despite the overall decline in abortions, the number of second-trimester abortions actually increased, suggesting the decrease in access to clinics and medication abortions is forcing women to wait until later in their pregnancies to have the procedure.

That's just the ones that are included in the official numbers.

Between HB-2's sweeping restrictions which limit access and Texas' 2011 cuts to family planning funding, Grossman says he expects the unintended birthrate to rise and worries the rate of self-induced and illegal abortions will rise as well.

"[Researchers] suspect that self-induced abortion will rise in Texas as access to clinic-based care becomes more difficult," Grossman told the Huffington Post. "Depending on the method used and when in pregnancy women attempt to do this, there may be health risks for women associated with self-induction."

'Suspect' and 'may be' are a little cautious, which is appropriate for a medical research analyst.  That person might be unaware that do-it-yourself abortions are already rising.

When the Texas Lege -- and many other states, to be clear -- passed reproductive rights restrictions in 2011 (the ultrasound law), state legislators were shocked to return in 2013 and discover the same thing that is happening now: more poor women were giving birth to more babies.  Any concerns they may have had about psychological trauma inflicted on the women involved, the extra expense associated with the waiting period, and the fact that they weren't changing any hearts or minds might have gotten lost in the fiduciary worries.

We already know how Texas Republicans feel about babies who are actually fetuses and zygotes.  "Once that umbilical cord is cut, kid, you're on your own."  And they DO mean 'on your own'.

We're in the process of watching the fruit of compassionate conservatism come to harvest.  And the damage is much deeper than the rare pricked conscience of someone like David Simpson.

More on clinic closings from Andrea Grimes.


Gadfly said...

Speaking of all this, did you see the nutbar bumper sticker I wrote about?

PDiddie said...

I did and I shared to G+ and elsewhere.

Did you see what Alamo Drafthouse told Greg Abbott? It wasn't as good as your suggestion but it's still pretty good.

Gadfly said...

Nice... glad to see some theater doesn't want that crap.