August 26, 2013; ThinkProgress
ThinkProgress reports that since 2010 more than 50 abortion clinics have closed due to a rash of state-level regulations and restrictions being imposed by lawmakers on abortion clinics. Many believe that the new regulations, requiring them to widen their hallways, upgrade their air filtration systems, and form special agreements with hospitals, are unnecessary and aimed explicitly at closing the clinics to prevent abortions. The campaign has been dubbed the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, and according to the Guttmacher Institute, 27 states now have passed such laws.
Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager at Guttmacher, says the trend is very dramatic. Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin have enacted new TRAP laws this summer, but litigation has successfully prevented them in other states, like Mississippi and Alabama. The diminished access to quality providers is already forcing many women to cross state lines to get an abortion.
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Meanwhile, because hospitals are tougher targets than clinics for this kind of forced closing, some OB-GYN professionals are pushing hospitals to commit to more abortion care. Others are fundraising to ensure that access is not denied, recognizing that new restrictions disproportionately affect women whose income is below the poverty line.
“Barriers are increasing, access is more difficult, and women are sometimes being forced to carry the pregnancy later than they would have,” said Karen Law of the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund, which provides access grants to women in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. “They didn’t have the $500 at seven or eight weeks, and it just gets more expensive as they try to find financial resources.”
“Abortion funds are often the only lifeline available for low-income women,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Restrictions that close clinics may mean a woman has to drive four hours rather than 30 minutes, or may have to take one, two or three days off her job and arrange for child care.”
There seems to be a recent upsurge in the numbers of women applying to one of 103 abortion funds. The Lilith Fund in Texas has experienced an increase of 47 percent, from 2,330 in 2010 to 3,443 in 2012. New York Abortion Access Fund saw a 31 percent increase last year over the previous year, and the Hersey fund experienced a 135 percent increase over the past two years, but it turns away seven of eight women who call, giving priority to women in certain categories, like being incarcerated, homeless, or survivors of sexual or domestic violence.
Luckily, more fundraising is being done for these funds. One nationwide bowling tournament this April raised $553,133 to help low-income women seeking abortions. Sarah Tuttle, a bowler/activist, said, “Some people fundraise to fight breast cancer; I fundraise for abortion access.”—Ruth McCambridge