Women in the US have enjoyed the legal right to abortion since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade.
This right is being effectively gutted in numerous regions of the US. The strategy of anti-abortion activists has been to simply find ways of using creative legislation to close existing abortion clinics. The nominal right to an abortion without the ability to actually have one is plainly meaningless. This is a serious attack on women’s rights, and puts at risk over 40 years of gains in women’s right to reproductive control over their bodies.
Women in parts of Texas, for example, now have the right to an abortion, but no access to clinics or doctors to perform them. Here is the New York Times, reporting today:
The day after a federal appeals court allowed stringent new abortion restrictions to take effect in Texas, patients arrived on Friday at Whole Woman’s Health here in the Rio Grande Valley to find that they must travel 240 miles north to San Antonio to find one of the eight legal abortion clinics now in operation.
Whole Woman’s Health was one of 13 clinics across the state forced to stop performing abortions on Friday because they did not meet the building and staffing standards of a hospital-style surgery center, as now mandated by law.
Elvia Yamell Hamdan, 44, and her husband left their home in Rio Bravo, Tex., at 6 a.m. and arrived at the clinic at 9. The mother of four and grandmother of three said she did not want another pregnancy. She was surprised and puzzled by what she discovered.
“When I got here, I found out the law had changed yesterday,” she said. “I thought, ‘How is that possible?’ ”
The overwhelmed clinic staff could not see her until the afternoon, and the first appointment they could find for her at the San Antonio clinic was three weeks away. Ms. Hamdan, who said she is six weeks pregnant, said she did not want to wait any longer for an abortion, but felt she had no choice but to wait and to spend the extra gas money.
Nationally, leaders of anti-abortion groups hailed a major victory in Thursday’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Under Roe v. Wade and later Supreme Court decisions, women have a right to an abortion up to the point that the fetus is viable outside the womb, often at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. States may regulate the procedure as long as they do not impose an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortions.