Think about this for a moment: American women living in Texas have to drive out of their states, possibly for several hours, arrange for child care and time off from work, all in order to assert their rights as U.S. citizens over their own bodies. Let that sink in. Now, can you imagine if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had to leave his state every time he needed to have a certain medical procedure done?
Well, Abbott wouldn’t be in that position because he’s not a woman, but sadly, thanks to Texas law effectively banning abortion after six weeks, his constituents are being forced to drive out of state to have their medical needs met.
According to Communication Director Zack Gingrich-Gaylord of the Trust Women Clinic in Oklahoma City, OK, since SB-8 went into effect, their patient load has nearly doubled. Gingrich-Gaylord told KFOR-4 in Oklahoma that patients are coming from places as far south as Galveston or Corpus Christi, Texas. The clinic has been so swamped that they’re suggesting patients seeking abortions go to Wichita, Kansas.
“It’s not good,” Gingrich-Gaylord says. “These are patients who would otherwise be going to seek care in their own communities. The surrounding states are not that big and they don’t have that many clinics. So, it’s creating a significant strain on the neighboring states to Texas.”
Abbott has had abortion rights in his crosshairs for some time. A year and a half ago, he made abortions essentially impossible by deeming them nonessential medical procedures, which were suspended during COVID-19.
Texas women are being left to scramble. The New York Times reports that half the women in a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, and about 19% of the patients at the Little Rock Family Planning Services in Arkansas are all from Texas. Appointments are now scheduled into mid-October.
The worse part is, as bad as it is that women are forced to leave their communities for medical care, one state at least may soon follow Texas. Oklahoma has its own Pro-Life abortion law (HB 2441) set to go into effect on Nov. 1, which could ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The truth is many women can’t simply get into their cars and drive to another state to get an abortion, and lawmakers such as Abbott know that.
“We know this from experience. Those with means will be able to go somewhere else, and the majority will be forced into parenthood,” Sean Mehl, associate director of clinical services for Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, told The New Yorker.
There is a grain of hope regarding the Texas law. On Oct. 1, opponents will have an opportunity to implore a judge to suspend it, and the U.S. Supreme Court may still rule on SB-8, possibly even finding it unconstitutional. However, in a profoundly disturbing reality, its decision to allow the law to go into effect means clinics will close and thousands of Texas women will be unable to access abortion, including pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.