October 30, 2014 — Texas' "sheer size" means that women in some parts of the state would have to pay more than $100 for gas to reach the nearest abortion clinic if certain provisions of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) take effect statewide, according to an analysis, The Atlantic reports (Khazan, The Atlantic, 10/28).
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued a stay on a provision of HB 2 that requires abortion clinics in Texas to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, allowing many clinics to potentially reopen. The high court also exempted abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen from a provision that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
However, the admitting privileges provision remains in effect for other facilities in the state. Further, although the Supreme Court blocked enforcement of the ambulatory surgical centers provision for now, the justices did not rule on the merits of the case (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15).
For the analysis, posted on Medium, Duke University student Jordan Schermerhorn created a graphic demonstrating how much gas would cost for a roundtrip drive in her home state of Texas to the eight abortion clinics that likely would have remained open had HB 2 fully gone into effect. Schermerhorn used data from Fund Texas Women and a 2008 gas mileage estimate for a new car.
Schermerhorn found that women traveling from central Texas would have to make a 400 mile roundtrip and need $50 for gas to reach the nearest facility if the law were fully implemented.
Further, she found that reaching the nearest abortion facility from Texas's most southern tip would cost about $151 in gas, with a roundtrip distance of more than 1,000 miles. The Atlantic notes that such a trip would mean that a woman earning the minimum wage in Texas must work more than a half week to raise enough money, which does not factor in the $300 to $950 cost of the procedure.
The Atlantic adds that "it's not just Texas: Nearly half the states have recently passed laws that force abortion clinics to meet new building codes or close their doors," noting, "As clinics close under these restrictions -- more than 50 have since 2010 -- the cost of driving to the remaining providers will likely creep up further" (The Atlantic, 10/28).