Access to Abortion 40 Years After Roe

The Daily Beast mapped out all the clinics in the country that provided abortion services and found, unsurprisingly, that they are clustered around big cities and that many women would have to travel hundreds of miles to get to one. They even made the map interactive so you can search your area.

The clearest trend on the map is the dearth of clinics through the center of the country—from northern Texas through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Roughly 400,000 women of reproductive age (between 15 and 44) live more than 150 miles from the closest clinic in this region. The county farthest away from an abortion clinic is Divide, N.D. All of these states except Wyoming require 24-hour waiting periods between the time a woman schedules an abortion and the procedure.

Often, the states with the fewest clinics also have more restrictions. These are six of the many states that recently curtailed access to medical abortion—also known as the abortion pill—by banning telemedicine, a method doctors use to prescribe medication to terminate a pregnancy over a video chat, a convenience to people who live in rural areas.

And here’s why murdering abortion doctors works:

Since the 2009 murder of abortion provider George Tiller, Wichita, Kans., has been without an abortion clinic of any kind and is roughly three hours’ travel from the nearest ones in Kansas City and in Tulsa and Norman, Okla. Women who visit the Oklahoma clinics will face a ban on telemedicine, while those who travel to Kansas City will be required to get an ultrasound.

What we have seen since the Republicans took over so many state legislatures in 2010 has been a staggering assault on reproductive rights. They are trying to destroy this right by enacting death by a thousand cuts to the clinics that provide it. But there is much collateral damage. Forcing those clinics out of business also takes away birth control services from a huge number of women, as well as prenatal care. In Michigan we have 16 contiguous counties in the upper part of the lower peninsula without a single clinic that does prenatal care. The result will be less healthy babies and mothers and increased spontaneous abortions to women who want to deliver the baby.

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  • The Christian terrorists are winning.

  • xkcd and heat maps:

    To these guys’ credit, they have a population overlay on their map.

  • chisaihana5219

    The Governor of Mississippi is trying to be the first state that is abortion-free. He has signed legislation to force the closing of the only abortion clinic in the state. His state has the highest infant mortality rate, the highest premature birth rate and the highest maternal mortality rate. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, but did not mandate that it be accessible. “Obamacare” makes health insurance mandatory, but it doesn’t say a state has to provide access to health care for women.

  • raven

    His state has the highest infant mortality rate, the highest premature birth rate and the highest maternal mortality rate.

    Mississippi is always at or near the bottom of every measure of social well being. They also pay very little in welfare benefits for their poor kids, some of whom were unwanted.

    I’d ask if they ever get tired of being poor, dumb, and dysfunctional but why bother? If they did, they would join us in the 21st century.

  • rebeccamad gastronomer

    Robin, what exactly is the point of linking to the xkcd comic? The fact that abortion providers are common in cities and population centers is not only explicitly stated, it is part of the point. Rural women — who already do not have the same level of access to health care, often including access to birth control, and often have far fewer resources of other kinds as well — are often completely cut off from abortion services in any meaningful fashion. Abortion services are needed where there are fewer people, too. Sure, there should be more providers in cities, simply because they have more people to serve. But there absolutely have to be providers in places with low population density as well.

  • raven

    I’ll add here that, thanks to the christofascists/GOP, DIY abortions are becoming more common.

    Everyone knows about RU-486, the abortion pill, commonly used for early stage abortions. There is now a black market for it, although I don’t know how big that market is.

    DIY Abortions – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

    andrewsullivan .thedailybeast.c om/2013/01/diy-abortions.html

    Jan 2, 2013 – [W]hile obtaining an abortion at a clinic is becoming harder, home abortion has never been easier or safer. In 2012, women have two resources …

    This is GOP health care plans at their finest.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    . . . here’s why murdering abortion doctors works [quoting The Daily Beast]:

    Since the 2009 murder of abortion provider George Tiller, Wichita, Kans., has been without an abortion clinic of any kind and is roughly three hours’ travel from the nearest ones in Kansas City and in Tulsa and Norman, Okla.

    My reading of foreign policy experts is that they conclude, unfortunately, that terrorism is often an effective strategy and tactic.

    When Dr. Tiller was assassinated Andrew Sullivan ran a pretty extensive set of blog posts on abortion. One of the more startling findings he reported was that even females in high-income metropolitan areas, like NYC, lack access to late-term abortion services when their health or life is threatened. Some traveled from the state of NY to Kansas to secure Dr. Tiller’s services.

  • vmanis1

    It’s pretty clear that the issue is not access to abortion at all. Women will have abortions whether or not it is legal. What is at issue is whether to provide those abortions in a safe way. In other words, whether women receive the health care they require, or whether those same women can only receive unregulated, unsafe treatment.

    Calling that latter viewpoint `pro-life’ is utterly absurd.

  • Wes

    While the situation is definitely bad, we shouldn’t treat lack of clinics specifically devoted to abortions as if it’s equivalent to having no access to abortion at all. Abortions are primarily performed at abortion clinics, but they are also performed in other places as well. Hospitals, private physicians’ offices and other types of clinics also sometimes provide abortion services. It’s a bit misleading to focus exclusively on abortion clinics, as if that’s the only possible place to get an abortion.

    That said, the problem is dire even if you look at all abortion providers, rather than just abortion clinics alone. We clearly have a long way to go to make what should be a basic medical procedure as available as it should be. Rural providers are way behind, but that shouldn’t be surprising since “holy truths” such as “the undeveloped, unconscious life in a womb is more valuable than the fully developed, conscious person who possesses the womb” are going to be more common in cow-pie country than in the cities. As long as society continues to value abstract traditions over concrete human lives, that’s not going to change.

    One thing that could help would be if states started reforming redistricting. Gerrymandering districts to favor one party over another is a ridiculously common practice, and the Republicans have done a better job of it than the Democrats. Maybe we should consider some kind of legislation that limits what kinds of shapes districts can have–such as saying a district must be a rectilinear polygon with no more than 20 sides/angles. There’s a shit ton of districts that wouldn’t pass muster by that standard, and the more they diverge, the more likely it is that they’ve been gerrymandered. It would certainly make it harder for people to gain permanent control of state legislatures (and the house of representatives) if you just put a geometric limit on how they draw districts.

  • Calling Women’s Reproductive Healthcare Services MEDICAL practices, “Abortion Clinics” is not helping with the perception issue.

    I wonder if Weenie LaPutrid and the rest of the “Right to kill people you don’t like” crowd would object to having all gun outlets, gun ranges and the like called, “Killing shit stores” and “Learning to kill shit places”?

    Abortion is one of a range of services (a number of which have NOTHING to do with abortion) that are provided by the so-called “abortion clinics”.