Roe #43: Like Déjà Vu All Over Again
This week we celebrate 43 years of safe, legal abortion thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a challenge to a Texas law banning abortion. Now, 43 years after Roe, we are again awaiting a Supreme Court decision about another backward Texas law on abortion that has already had a real impact on the lives of women. In March the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a law passed in Texas in July 2013. HB2 has already shut down more than half of the clinics in the state, forcing women to travel drastically long distances and wait as long as 20 days to get an appointment.
HB2 limits access to abortion care by requiring all abortion clinics in the state to comply with regulations for Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) and abortion providers to carry admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, requiring that clinics comply or close. The law was passed under the guise of “keeping women safe” despite the fact that 1) abortion is already incredibly safe and 2) there is no evidence that abortion is safer in an ASC than in a doctor’s office.
The false narrative that abortion is dangerous or that abortion providers deliver sub-par care to patients is something I’ve written about on this blog before. Abortion providers care deeply about their patients, including providing a safe and comforting environment in which to make what is most often the best decision for themselves and their families. As a former healthcare provider I know how important it is for patients to feel comfortable and comforted, especially when making the decision to end a pregnancy. Often women are making this decision with the support of family members or friends, who sometimes provide comfort by being with them in the waiting room, during the procedure, and while they recover. Having an abortion procedure or taking the abortion pill in an ASC does not make a patient safer, but it does prevent them from having their loved ones with them when they make these important decisions. Restrictions on abortion providers passed in Texas and other states have nothing to do with keeping women safe and only serve to stigmatize abortion, harass abortion providers, and limit access for patients.
So like 43 years ago, we await a major Supreme Court decision on abortion and once again hope to see a decision that reaffirms the right to safe and legal abortion, strikes down an unconstitutional state law, and stops the attempts to pass others like it around the country. For the many advocates who’ve already fought this fight, this year must feel like déjà vu.