National Partnership for Women & Families

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Spread of TRAP Laws Threatens Clinics Nationwide

Spread of TRAP Laws Threatens Clinics Nationwide

March 10, 2014 — The burgeoning number of states imposing strict regulations on abortion clinics "is proving one of the most effective [tactics] in years for pro-life groups" that seek to limit access to abortion services by closing clinics, the Washington Times reports.

Abortion-rights supporters call the regulations targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the Times, they have forced many abortion providers to close, "greatly reducing the availability of abortions in large parts of the country."

Admitting Privileges Strategy

One common TRAP measure is a requirement that abortion providers obtain hospital admitting privileges. Nineteen clinics in Texas have closed since the state enacted a law (HB 2) that includes the admitting privileges requirement and other antiabortion-rights provisions.

While abortion-rights opponents say the laws are meant to improve safety, abortion-rights supporters say the real goal is clearly to increase barriers to abortion access.

Abortion-rights groups and providers have challenged many of the laws in court. Admitting privileges laws have been enjoined in Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin and North Dakota. In North Dakota, the state's sole abortion clinic is in settlement talks with the state after obtaining the privileges, while in Mississippi, the Jackson Women's Health Organization is fighting to keep the state's only abortion clinic operating. Courts have allowed Texas' law to remain in effect while a legal challenge proceeds.

American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama Legal Director Randall Marshall said the fact that TRAP laws are appearing across the U.S. shows "a concerted effort" to restrict abortion rights (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 3/9).