If you follow the news, it’s hard not to feel that the right to abortion rests on increasingly shaky ground.
In 2019, state legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio all passed abortion bills that blatantly contradict the principle that the Supreme Court has upheld for decades: States cannot pass restrictions that create an undue burden on a person’s constitutional right to access abortion care.
These states have passed unconstitutional abortion bans on purpose in the hopes that lawsuits will make their way up to the most conservative Supreme Court we’ve had in decades, providing an opportunity to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade.
But while it might be easy to focus exclusively on these attempts to completely ban abortions, we cannot lose sight of the fact that states have been making it increasingly more difficult for women to access abortion care for years. And obstacles placed in the way of obtaining abortions can effectively become a ban for most women — whether it’s burdensome steps one must take or long travel distances required to reach the nearest provider.
Opponents of the right to abortion have been attempting this type of death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach for years, gradually stigmatizing abortion providers and people who seek abortions, eroding their ability to access it bit by bit. These are just a few of the restrictions on abortion that are currently in force in Texas:
- Texas bans abortions after 20 weeks, even though medical professionals generally agree that fetuses are not viable until around 24 weeks.
- State law mandates that people must wait 24 hours after a required counseling session before they can obtain abortions. This causes disproportionate burdens on low-income Texans, who might have a harder time obtaining transportation, accommodations, or time off from work.
- Abortion providers are required by law to distribute a pamphlet containing medically inaccurate information. A study out of Rutgers University found that almost half of the statements in Texas’ pamphlet about first trimester abortions were false or misleading.
As of the publishing of this article, abortion remains legal in Texas, a testament to the power of Texan voices — the majority of whom, according to recent polling, support protecting the right to abortion care.
But the above restrictions and others are very much in place. And if Texans don’t continue to push back, anti-abortion policymakers will continue urging more and more restrictions on abortion care until the right functionally disappears. And we know what a world without access to safe abortion will look like; we’ve been there before. People will be unable to make private family planning decisions, will be deprived of bodily autonomy, and will die if they attempt to end pregnancies without access to safe, regulated care.
Abortion is healthcare, and we must protect it. If you’d like to stand up to anti-abortion extremists, join us on June 25 in Dallas and July 10 in Austin for two special events in partnership with The Riveter, where we’ll be discussing the future of the abortion rights battle in Texas.
And if you or someone you know needs access to or information about abortion, please visit needabortion.org.