Ever since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, legislators have sought to undermine its power by passing laws that force abortion clinics to close. Following another big push of legislation in 2010, more than 54 clinics have been forced to shut their doors, according to The Huffington Post’s nationwide survey of state health departments, abortion clinics and abortion advocacy groups.
The clinics are spread across 27 different states. Several additional clinics are only still open because judges have thus far blocked legislation that would have shut them down– or at the least have made it very difficult to continue to operate. Most new laws do not directly outlaw abortion– that would go directly against the Supreme Court’s standing decision– but they can cut off a clinic’s access to monetary resources.
The Huffington Post’s survey was far from perfect– 21 state health departments were unable to be surveyed because they do not license abortion providers separately from other medical services. Additionally, the survey did not include hospitals that provide abortions.
“This kind of change is incredibly dramatic,” Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, told The Huffington Post. “What we’ve been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change … [is] so different from what’s happened in the past.”
Texas and Arizona have some of the highest numbers, losing nine and 12 clinics, respectively. In Texas, dramatic cuts to family planning funding as well as requirements that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals and that clinics become ambulatory surgical centers have made it difficult for many abortion providers to remain open. Similar pushes in Arizona have closed down its clinics.
In an article released in January of this year, The Daily Beast “identified and confirmed the location of the country’s remaining 724 clinics and calculated the distance from every part of the country to its closest clinic.” The paper combined that data into a map that lights up regions that have access. Particularly notable is a wide swath across the Midwest that remains dark, with only a few pinpricks to show that there is any access at all. It is in these areas that a woman seeking an abortion might have to travel extensively to find an open clinic. According to the report, at the time there were 724 clinics open nationwide. The legality of these restrictive laws is still being challenged in courts across the country by abortion advocacy groups and private individuals.