Thanks to increasingly aggressive legislation by the GOP, abortion clinics across the U.S. are closing at the fastest rate since 1973, the year the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion procedures. 162 clinics have closed since 2011, while only 21 have opened.
According to Bloomberg Business’ Esmé E Deprez:
No region was exempt, though some states lost more than others. Texas, which in 2013 passed sweeping clinic regulations that are under scrutiny by the Supreme Court, saw the most: at least 30. It was followed by Iowa, with 14, and Michigan, with 13. California’s loss of a dozen providers shows how availability declined, even in states led by Democrats, who tend to be friendly to abortion rights.
Stand-alone clinics, not doctors’ offices or hospitals, perform the vast majority of pregnancy terminations. They account for the vast majority of the tally, which was compiled by Bloomberg News over the past three months and builds on a similar undertaking from 2013.
The financial, physical, and emotional costs of the closures will primarily be paid by low income, rural women who lack the resources to travel for their healthcare. The Bloomberg report states that 19 percent of the closures happened in counties with less than 100,000 people and that 30.5 million women of reproductive age live within 25 miles of the now-closed clinics. As of 2011, there were only 553 abortion clinics in the U.S., as opposed to 705 in 1980 (according to the Guttmacher Institute).
Based on the current state of things, rural pregnant women—even the ones not seeking abortions—might be completely SOL no matter what they do. NPR reports that more and more rural hospitals are shutting down entire maternity wards completely due to lack of staff and lack of funding.
“Each year, about 500,000 women in the United States give birth in rural hospitals, yet easy access to labor and delivery units has been declining,” writes NPR’s Michelle Andrews. “Though comprehensive figures are spotty, a recent analysis of 306 rural hospitals in nine states with large rural populations found that 7.2 percent closed their obstetrics units between 2010 and 2014.”
The decline in rural maternity wards is yet another (potentially lethal) reminder that the anti-abortion fight has nothing to do with the sanctity of life and everything to do with controlling and disrespecting women’s bodies.
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