Today the Supreme Court delivered a ruling of monumental significance to reproductive rights and women’s health. Texas, and every other state attempting to limit abortion access, will be required to revise their laws so that those seeking to terminate pregnancies can safely do so. However, the ruling does not necessarily mean that new clinics will open as a result.
According to AP, roughly 20 Texas abortion facilities have been shuttered since 2013. The very bill that was today voted unconstitutional has cut the number of clinics more than in half: 41 existed before the bill; now only 19 remain.
“We really have a daunting task to determine whether and how we can reopen our health centers,” Whole Woman’s Health founder Amy Hagstrom Miller told AP. Miller runs clinics across Texas, including the only one bordering Mexico in the south of the state.
In the meantime, women in rural Texas will still be forced to travel considerable distances to obtain care. And with a legislature in the firm grasp of Republicans, abortion providers will find it difficult to open new clinics, even if they procure location, staff, and the necessary licenses and equipment. Ultimately, it could be years before women outside the state’s major cities gain easy access to clinics.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards does not say whether it will be possible to reestablish 40 open abortion clinics. In fact, she has not yet promised that Planned Parenthood—the largest abortion provider in the U.S.—will widen its reach across Texas. But she is optimistic.
“Just to reestablish services in a community and get the licensures is just not something that is going to happen overnight,” she said to AP.
The Supreme Court’s ruling obstructed a catastrophic development in reproductive health. But today’s good news amounts to one milestone in what will undoubtedly be a jagged, tumultuous course.
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