Texas is one of the states in the US that has very strict abortion laws because it is conservative. The Texas House Bill No. 2 (HB2) is an anti-abortion law passed in 2013. The HB2 bill adds several new restrictions to abortion care in Texas. Some of these additional restrictions include: physicians must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinics; abortion physicians are not allowed to perform abortions on women who are 20 weeks or more into their pregnancy; the use of medical abortion or an abortion pill must be based on FDA regulations, which requires the pregnant woman to visit the abortion clinic twice to get her two abortion pill doses; and all abortion facilities must meet the standard of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) even if the abortion clinic only provides medical abortion (Potter, 2014). Since the HB2 law was passed, many people have protested against this law as it constitutes an impediment to access to abortion clinics. This has also led public health investigators to review the impact of the HB2 law on women’s access to abortion clinics in Texas.
In the article, “Lesson from Texas: Widespread Consequences of Assaults on Abortion Access,” Gold and Hasstedt summarize the findings of Gerdts et.al on the study they performed on the impact of abortion restrictions in Texas. Gerdts et.al, found that the HB2 law has forced the closure of several abortion clinics in Texas. There are several reasons for the closures of these abortion clinics. Some of them include: the requirement of the HB2 law that the abortion clinics have admission privileges at a hospital 30 miles from the clinic; the fact that the clinic must meet the standard of ACS; and a lack of family planning funding from the government (Benson & Hasstedt, 2016). The closure of abortion clinics in Texas has caused reduced access to abortion clinics and has increased the burden on pregnant women seeking abortion services because women now have to travel a greater distance to get an abortion.
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The Texas state government also pulled back the expansion of Medicaid funding for family planning through the Texas Women’s Health Program, especially to the centers and clinics that provided abortion services. Because the state government rolled back from expanding the Medicaid funding, the Texas Women’s Health Program also lost the federal funding. One of the main consequences of this was that the program was not able to provide contraceptive care to all the women enrolled in the program. In addition, Texas removed Planned Parenthood centers from its network of safety-net family planning. This leaves uninsured women who rely on Planned Parenthood for their contraceptives and other family planning services without access to the services they need. Also, the Medicaid coverage for certain types of contraceptives was stopped, forcing women to choose Medicaid-funded contraceptives over their preferred contraceptives.
The HB2 was passed with the pretense of protecting women’s health. But it is evident that it was directed to reduce or eliminate abortion services, which has negatively impacted women who are confronting unintended pregnancy. The HB2 law is also interfering with the couples’ right to make decisions about childbearing by policing women who seek contraceptive care.
Ms. Navya Karkada got her Bachelors degree in Biology specializing in Physiology and Neurobiology from University of Maryland. She is currently pursuing her MPH degree, concentrating in Community Health and Prevention at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. Karkada is interested in Maternal and Child Health, Health Disparities among minority groups, and Global Health. She is currently working as a social media intern at Cancer InCytes and as a research assistant at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.
Potter, J.E. (2014). House Bill 2 (HB2) Fact Sheet. Texas Evaluation Project. Retrieved on 13th June, 2016 from http://liberalarts.utexas.edu/txpep/_files/pdf/txpep%20fact%20sheet%20HB2%20Oct.% 04%202014.pdf
Gerdts, C., Fuentes, L., Grossman, D., et al. (2016). Impact of Clinic Closures on Women Obtaining Abortion Services after Implementation of a Restrictive Law in Texas. American Journal of Public Health, 106(5): 857-864
Gold, R. B., & Hasstedt, K. (2016). Lessons from Texas: Widespread consequences of assaults on abortion access. American Journal of Public Health, 106(6): 970-971. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303220
Photo credit: The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/nov/13/us-supreme-court-challenge-texas-hb2-abortion-rights