Due to Texas’ new abortion ban, women in the state must now travel 20 times farther to obtain an abortion as reported in an analysis of anti-abortion measures implemented in some states due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, the average distance a woman will have to travel one-way to reach the nearest abortion provider will increase from 12 miles to 243 miles. “The greater the increase in travel distance, the greater the hardship it causes, and the more likely it becomes that some individuals will not be able to get abortion care at all,” the report stated. Even though abortion access is already limited in Texas, this abortion ban has made it even more difficult.
The statewide ban in Texas is seen by proponents of abortion rights and reproductive rights as political posturing, using the pandemic as an excuse to block access to the procedure. Texas officials, however, say that the move to ban abortion arose out of the need to conserve medical supplies for those working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Texas is one of five other states to introduce abortion restrictions as the virus spreads across the United States. Some of these restrictions are being challenged in the courts due to the unconstitutional burden placed on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. Last Tuesday a federal appeals court in Texas ruled that the state is able to temporarily ban abortion because it is part of the state’s response to the pandemic. In a 2-1 decision in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the ruling stayed a lower court ruling that blocked the abortion ban.
“Texans know abortion is a time-sensitive procedure that cannot be delayed without profound consequences and Texans will remember that when they needed help during a pandemic, their state leaders were too busy politicizing and banning abortion care,” said Aimee Arrambide, executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League.
Other states included in the Guttmacher study include Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, and Oklahoma. In all these states, patients will have to face increased travel times due to the temporary abortion bans. Due to travel costs and times, the procedure will now be out of reach for some women, with the most affected by states’ bans being low-income women and single mothers.
Sources: The Hill, 4/3/20; CBS News, 4/2/20.