While the recent onslaught of medically unnecessary regulations designed to close abortion clinics have been incredibly successful at reducing abortion access in many red states, they have done nothing to reduce demand. What happens when fewer and fewer clinics are around to handle the unchanging need for abortion services? Waiting periods, it turns out.
Robin Marty of Talking Points Memo explains how the clinic crunch in the Midwest is creating an escalation of demand at the clinics that are still open. Wisconsin is in court fighting to protect yet another hospital admitting privileges bill, one that’s expected to close one of the state’s four abortion clinics:
What clinics are left behind will overflow, as patients are forced to find their next closest option. In Wisconsin this has already been outed as a major concern. Planned Parenthood, the only other Milwaukee clinic, has stated that they already have a two to three week wait for patients to get in for terminations, and that if AMS is closed that wait will likely extend to eight to 10 weeks in order to handle the additional 2,500 patients a year.
As Marty points out, this will mean a drastic uptick in the number of patients who get second-trimester abortions. Women who are seeking second-trimester abortions are already more likely than women getting first-trimester procedures to be living in poverty, have health insurance obstacles, or have more chaos in their lives. Having to pull the money together, as well as plan for child care and travel, often delays an abortion as well. Now you have to add waiting periods to the entire process.
Anti-abortion activists love to focus on later-term abortions to drum up support for their cause, highlighting recent bans on post-20 week abortions as a major victory in states like Kansas and Texas. However, as Marty’s story shows, the bulk of new regulations are focused on eliminating access to earlier abortions, driving up demand for later procedures. For example, the explosion in laws trying to make it harder to get a medication abortion, which can only be performed in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. For people who claim to be appalled by later abortion, anti-choice activists sure are doing a lot of work trying to increase the number of them.