That slam you heard was the doors of another abortion clinic closing. In 2005, there were just under 600 free-standing abortion clinics providing health care to many women across the nation. The outpatient care model was designed to keep the procedure more affordable while providing high quality care.
These clinics have been subject to ever increasing requirements – requirements created by legislatures to “protect women.” These are often called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). These laws impose requirements on the clinic that include having halls wide enough to have a gurney move sideways down them, larger janitorial closets, and increasing staffing beyond current situations. Ultimately, each of these requirements increases the cost of the procedure.
Simultaneously, one must add in the costs of keeping up with technology, (i.e. electronic medical records), and the current move toward consolidation of services. When you combine all of this with lower insurance reimbursement rates, you have circumstances that make it impossible to provide affordable care to pregnant people seeking abortions. This has led to 1.5 abortion clinics closing each week – leaving us now with less than 400 nationwide. Some states, like Texas and Wisconsin, are also trying to impose a new requirement for physicians providing abortion services that says they need to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Which, all too often, will not be granted due to the ideology of those hospitals, or because abortion care is so safe that these doctors will not admit enough patients to the hospital. This means patients are travelling longer distances, while still facing more barriers to health care.
New clinics are not opening because fewer and fewer physicians or nurse practitioners are being trained in abortion procedures. In one survey, 55 percent of medical schools offered students no clinical exposure to abortion. The following states of Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas, have laws in place that restrict or ban abortions in publicly funded institutions. Thus, how can future physicians decide they want to provide abortions if they have never seen one? Those who do decide to become abortion providers settle in places where state laws and communities are friendlier toward abortion. That leaves pregnant people in rural areas, or strongly anti-abortion communities or states, without access.
Consequently, America finds herself at a moral crossroad of whether or not to care for those most in need of healthcare. The next election could move us in the right direction.
Reprinted from our Spring Newsletter