HB 2 clears Texas court, women set to suffer
Last summer, Texas passed House Bill 2, a law that imposed some of the toughest abortion restrictions nationwide upon Texas. It requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles and restricts the use of abortion pills or any other form of non-surgical abortion.
These restrictions had been officially contested and subsequently sent to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Reversing the previous lower court ruling that had struck down these two provisions, the Fifth Circuit found that this new law had “rational basis,” upholding HB2’s restrictions.
Not only have these restrictions been called unnecessary by both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, but they have forced multiple abortion clinics in Texas to shut down.
In 2011, 44 clinics existed in Texas; by the end of September — when the second half of these restrictions officially goes into effect — there will be only six. Perhaps seven, if the new $5 million Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, currently being scheduled to open its doors when all of these new restrictions come into play, is able to open its doors in time.
Those in favor of the new Texas law claim the new restrictions are meant to enforce safe procedures. What they are unable to understand is that this leaves only six abortion clinics for a population of more than 13 million women.
Not only are these six clinics unable to handle this capacity, but many of the clinics that will remain open in September are far away from rural areas, leaving many women with unwanted pregnancies marginalized and forgotten.
The court claims this new law does not create an unnecessary burden on the women who would be the most affected by these restrictions. And yet, this seems completely irrational. It can be a burden having to travel as much as four or five hours to reach an abortion clinic.
This is especially true for women who live in perpetual poverty and are unable to travel far because of their economic circumstances. There are some women who cannot afford to take two days off work to travel to another city to reach the nearest clinic.
Conversely, there are some women who cannot take two months off work to take care of a child whom they cannot feed without neglecting to feed themselves.
From the beginning, it has been clear to some that this law is just a thinly veiled anti-abortion law that is meant to make it harder for women all across Texas to make a choice about what happens to not only their bodies but their lives.
Even in a conservative state like Texas, there is opposition.
“The people of Texas have spoken through their elected leaders and in support of protecting the culture of life in our state,” Gov. Rick Perry said after the 5th Circuit’s ruling. “Today’s court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women’s health in Texas.”
When Perry said, “Texas has spoken,” he was of course not referring to the thousands of women who protested all across the state last summer in opposition to HB2, fighting alongside State Sen. Wendy Davis. He was referring to himself and to other conservatives who have apparently taken it upon themselves to decide what happens to women’s bodies.
“The ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey allowed that women should be able to get abortions without an undue burden. … HB2 allows the state to essentially eliminate abortion options within Texas, forcing women to travel extreme distances to get to a single abortion clinic in Texas. This places a huge burden on women in rural areas, because they have to not only drive so far to these clinics, but they have to rent a hotel, as there is a 24-hour waiting period,” said political science freshman Darcy Caballero.
“Upholding HB2 in Texas indirectly takes away a woman’s right to choose, because it systematically eliminates their options one by one under the ruse of it being for their health and safety.”
For now, Houston is lucky. It will retain one of its clinics and will be able to help women in the surrounding areas. However, we must fight for the rights of other women who have lost this right through superfluous requirements.
We cannot let any type of anti-choice legislation continue to pass without speaking up about it. Women deserve the right to have full control as to what happens to their bodies, especially when it concerns the choice as to whether to have a child.
Opinion columnist Carolina Trevino is an advertising freshman and may be reached at [email protected]