News Abortion

Louisiana Legislative Committee Approves Bill To Ban All Abortions in the State

Robin Marty

The House Health and Welfare Committee voted 10-2 to ban all abortions in the state of Louisiana, a direct Roe V. Wade challenge.

Louisiana is one step closer to trying to outlaw abortions all together, with Rep. John “Sterilize Poor Women” LaBruzzo’s total abortion ban bill flying through legislative committee.  It will now head to the House floor for a full vote.

Via NOLA.com:

LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, described his bill as absolutely intended to provide a legal avenue through which to challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy. The suits would begin, of course, with challenges to the LaBruzzo bill should it become law. The bill would make it a crime to provide an abortion or prescribe drugs with the intent of ending a pregnancy. There would be exceptions for medically necessary abortions, as certified by a physician, but not for cases of rape or incest. The measure also would bar the Louisiana Medicaid program from covering any abortion, also with no exception for cases of rape or incest, a move that state health officials said could threaten about $5 billion in federal Medicaid financing.

With a slew of bills being produced across the country that are meant to serve as Roe V. Wade bait, you start to wonder if the Supreme Court might just bundle them and dismiss them all at once in order to clear the deck, totally defeating the anti-choice’s strategy in the first place.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Analysis Abortion

Data Shows Surge in Texans Traveling Out of State to Get an Abortion

Teddy Wilson

A Rewire analysis has found that while Texas data shows there has been a decline in the number of abortions in the state, data from other neighboring states suggests there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Texans traveling out of state to access abortion care since the passage of HB 2 in 2013.

Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) was accused by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas of deliberately attempting to conceal abortion statistics from 2014, the first full year provisions of the state’s omnibus abortion law were in effect.

DSHS has yet to respond to a letter from the ACLU of Texas demanding that the agency make those statistics available to the public.

The news comes as the Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which challenges provisions of the abortion law, HB 2, which lawyers of the abortion clinics argue place an undue burden on patients and providers in the state, impeding their ability to provide or access constitutionally protected health care.

DSHS officials finalized the statistics in March, according to the ACLU in a statement, but they have yet to release the full statistics to the public.

“The details are being reviewed for accuracy,” Carrie Williams, director of media relations for DSHS, told Rewire. “We did release the provisional total several months ago but can’t release the underlying details until they are final.”

Even without those details, a Rewire analysis has found that while DSHS data shows there has been a decline in the number of abortions in the state, data from other neighboring states suggests there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Texans traveling out of state to access abortion care since the passage of HB 2 in 2013.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

The number of abortions in Texas has been steadily decreasing since 2008, according to data from DSHS: Over the six-year period, the number has declined by nearly 22 percent. There were 81,591 abortions in 2008, 77,850 in 2009, 77,592 in 2010, 72,470 in 2011, 68,298 in 2012, and 63,849 in 2013.

Around that time, the number of Texans who traveled out of state to have abortions also steadily decreased, by nearly 57 percent from 2008 to 2012. There were 225 patients who had abortions out of state in 2008, 220 in 2009, 129 in 2010, 138 in 2011, and 97 in 2012, according to DSHS.

In 2013, the year Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed HB 2 into law, the number of Texans who traveled out of state to have an abortion increased to 681more than the previous four years combined. Prior to the implementation of HB 2, there were 41 facilities providing abortion services in the state, and 16 of those facilities had either closed or stopped providing abortion services by the end of 2013.

Trisha Trigilio, staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, told Rewire that the statistics for out-of-state abortions for Texans are concerning. “This is more evidence of what was already proven in court: Texas’ onerous regulations unnecessarily block access to safe, legal abortion in our state,” Trigilio said in an email to Rewire.

Specifically, a study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project showed the implementation of HB 2 has increased travel distances to clinics, out-of-pocket costs, and overnight stays.

At least 400 more patients traveled outside of Texas to have an abortion in 2014 than did in 2013, according to Rewire‘s analysis. Data collected by the state health departments of Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana shows that at least 1,086 patients traveled to those states from Texas to obtain an abortion after portions of HB 2 took effect.

“Based on this [analysis from Rewire], it’s clear that this law doesn’t make women safer, it forces them to travel across the Texas border to get the care they need—and for women who can’t afford to leave the state, Texas law may prevent them from seeing a doctor at all,” Trigilio continued.

Texas Patients Seeking Out-of-State Abortions

In the wake of HB 2, more than half of the clinics that provide abortion services in Texas have been forced to close, leaving large swaths of the state without access to legal abortion care. The majority of the clinics that have remained open are located in major metropolitan areas: Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

As clinics that once served rural areas have closed, patients have been forced to drive hundreds of miles away from their homes to one of the state’s major cities or cross the border into neighboring states. 

Arkansas has seen a slight increase since the passage of HB 2 in the number of patients from Texas seeking abortion care.

Arkansas’ Health Statistics Branch of the state health department tracks the number of patients from out of state who have abortions. There were 21 from Texas in 2012, 25 in 2013, 41 in 2014, and 33 in 2015.

Kansas has also seen a slight increase in the number of Texas patients seeking abortion care, according to statistics published by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There were two patients from Texas who traveled to Kansas to obtain an abortion during 2012, 13 in 2013,  23 in 2014, and 24 in 2015.

Oklahoma saw a noticeable increase in the number of patients from Texas seeking abortion care there after the passage of HB 2, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health annual abortion surveillance report.

There were 21 patients from Texas who had an abortion during 2012 in Oklahoma, 59 in 2013, 136 in 2014, and 131 in 2015.

Based on Rewire‘s analysis, it seems as if no other state has seen a larger increase in patients from Texas seeking abortion care than Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) publishes data on abortions performed there collected by the State Center for Health Statistics (SCHS), but has typically not published data on the number of patients who live outside the state who have an abortion in Louisiana.

Preliminary SCHS figures for 2015 provided to Louisiana Right to Life, a state affiliate of the anti-choice organization National Right to Life Committee, included data on patients from out of state who obtained abortions in Louisiana.

There were 9,311 abortions performed in Louisiana during 2015, and patients from out of state accounted for 1,362 of all abortions performed in the state, according to DHH data published by Louisiana Right to Life.

The data did not include the states of residency for the patients from out of state, which the organization noted is “not available at this time.”

However, preliminary SCHS figures for 2014 provided to the Louisiana Right to Life did include details on the states of residency for patients who had an abortion in Louisiana. There were 10,211 abortions performed in Louisiana during 2014, and patients from out of state accounted for 1,432 of all abortions performed in the state.

Out of the 1,432 abortions had by residents from out of state, 886 were from Texas.

More and more pregnant people are traveling to New Mexico to access abortion care. About 20 percent of the roughly 4,500 abortions performed there in 2014 involved out-of-state patients, according to state health department data reported by the Albuquerque Journal.

Brittany Defeo, program manager with the aid group New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, previously told Rewire that the people she assists represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds. “They’re ages 18 to 40. It’s all walks of life,” Defeo said.

Defeo estimates that approximately one third of those seeking abortion services in New Mexico from out of state are from Texas. If estimates are correct, that would suggest that approximately 300 patients traveled from Texas to New Mexico to obtain abortion care in 2014. 

Natalie St. Clair, who assists patients seeking abortion care with nonprofit Fund Texas Choice, told the Texas Observer that she helps about ten clients per month travel to New Mexico to access abortion care. St. Clair explained to the Observer that clients often express shock over the barriers in Texas to accessing  abortion care.

“I hear a lot of ‘I had no idea that the laws were this way. I have to go out of state?’ There’s a lot of shame and guilt because people think it’s their fault, or they weren’t prepared enough,” St. Clair said. “I explain that [Texas laws] are set up this way on purpose … [They’re] making abortion inaccessible on purpose.”

Trigilio told Rewire that this data shows that HB 2 was never about protecting patients’s health and safety as proponents have claimed. “When a woman makes the deeply personal decision to have an abortion, she needs access to safe medical care and respect for the decision she has made. HB 2 impedes that,” the ACLU of Texas staff attorney said.

News Abortion

Pennsylvania Revives Bill to Ban Common Abortion Procedure

Teddy Wilson

The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and target the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure that is commonly used after miscarriages and in second-trimester abortion care.

Pennsylvania Republicans have revived a proposal that would criminalize a procedure used for second-trimester abortion care and ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation.

Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Crawford) on Monday introduced SB 888, which has 20 co-sponsorsall of whom are Republicans.

Anti-choice activists held a rally Tuesday calling on lawmakers to pass the bill. SB 888 is supported by several anti-choice organizations in the state including the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a state affiliate of Focus on the Family.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and target the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure that is commonly used after miscarriages and in second-trimester abortion care.

A physician who performs the procedure would be guilty of a third-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

The bill was referred to the senate judiciary committee, where it awaits a hearing.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Lawmakers in April indefinitely postponed a vote on an identical bill in the state house after Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spoke during a press conference alongside women who said they relied on that medical procedure to end their pregnancies.

Similar bills have been introduced this year in several states. They are copies of legislation drafted by the anti-choice group the National Right to Life Committee.

West Virginia’s Republican-majority legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama signed copycat bills this year.

State courts have blocked such measures passed by GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Republicans hold majorities in both of the Pennsylvania legislative chambers. In the state senate Republicans have a 31 to 19 advantage, and they control the house 118 to 84.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) previously said that he would veto the house version of the anti-choice measure should it reach his desk.