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TRAPped in Texas

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February 21, 2014

It was just last summer when we experienced Wendy Davis’ monumental filibuster against an anti-choice bill in the Texas Senate. Though the stand for abortion rights made national headlines, HB2 was later passed in a special session. The law has been in effect for several months and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is beginning to crack down on abortion providers.

This past week in Houston, Theodore Herring’s license was revoked and the Affordable Women’s Health Medical Center was shut down for not following the ridiculous TRAP laws in HB2. TRAP laws, also known as targeted regulation of abortion provider laws, limit the ability for abortion providers to do their jobs. In HB2, abortion clinics must have admitting privileges to a hospital 30 miles away. This is apparently to ensure that patients can be admitted to a hospital nearby in case of a complication. These laws are similar to hallway width requirements that are meant to “protect women.” The Texas Medical Board found that Herring performed almost 270 abortions without following the law.

With Houston being such a hugely populated city, revoking licenses from medical providers at the few still open locations is very dangerous for patients. It reinforces the concern that wealthy and well off individuals can afford to travel to an abortion clinic that meets the state’s requirements, excluding many other working-class and busy patients who desperately need these abortions the most. Just off I-45, a central interstate highway close to many Houston residents, those that need these services now have to travel extremely far to obtain the medical care they need. With the surprise visits and checks from the DSHS, many regions of Texas could be affected. The Valley, or the communities near the Texas-Mexico border that make up some of the poorest cities in the nation, now has to deal with the threat of the closest abortion clinics being closed down.

Red states are in deep trouble with these new waves of harmful laws. With a lack of safe abortion providers and clinics, it encourages dangerous, back-alley abortions we hear horror stories about. An increase of TRAP laws won’t decrease the amount of abortions, just the amount of safe facilities to have them. Texans are stuck in a rut where the laws we dreaded are now being put into effect. The pillars of Roe v. Wade are slowly being torn down, piece by legislative piece.

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