Abortion clinics have been closing at an alarming rate since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010. Now, there are five states that only have one abortion clinic each to serve their residents: Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These states are also home to some of the most restrictive abortion regulations, as well, according to the Guttmacher Institute. All require parental notice or consent for minors receiving abortions, all but Wyoming require waiting periods, and three mandate that patients must receive "counseling" on purported side effects that have no basis in scientific fact, such as a link between abortions and breast cancer, the capability of a fetus to feel pain, and long-term mental health effects on the woman.
The rise in anti-abortion legislation has been swift and severe, with Guttmacher reporting in January that in the last five years, nearly 300 such laws have been enacted, accounting for more than a quarter of all abortion restrictions enacted in the 43 years since Roe v. Wade. The one saving grace for reproductive rights has been the Supreme Court, which struck down the most severe restrictions of a new Texas law in June, in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. If President-elect Donald Trump has his way, rulings like that will be a thing of the past.
Mississippi, the poorest U.S. state, according to New York magazine, provides abstinence-only education in public schools, and has one the the nation's highest teen pregnancy rates. The Guardian reported that one in five Missouri women seeking an abortion has to travel 100 miles round trip to visit the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic. North Dakota just recently lost a bid to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which normally occurs at just six weeks gestation, according to NPR, before many women even realize that they're pregnant. In 2013, Wyoming attempted the same thing. Planned Parenthood of Sioux Falls can't even find a doctor in all of South Dakota who's willing to perform abortions; they have to fly them in from Minnesota. These women deserve better.
Research has shown that abortion restrictions don't work. Women who need the procedure may go to another state, as Trump suggested, which is a nearly insurmountable financial burden for many. Those who can't may end up attempting to induce abortion themselves by illegal and unsafe means. That will result in either terminated pregnancies, as planned, or severely injured children with nobody to care for them. And as for the women, they'll end up injured, imprisoned, or dead. But I suspect those who enact such laws never even considered the women in the first place.