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Abortion Mandatory Delays Can Increase Cost, Restrict Access

May 28, 2015 — States increasingly are proposing and passing mandatory delay measures as a way to restrict abortion access, The Atlantic reports.

For example, Oklahoma (HB 1409) has increased its mandatory delay to 72 hours, the Florida (HB 633) Legislature has passed a 24-hour delay that requires two appointments and Arkansas (Act 1086) and Tennessee (SB 1222) have approved 48-hour mandatory delays. Overall, according to The Atlantic, 26 states currently impose a mandatory delay before a woman can obtain an abortion.

Mandatory Delay Measures Aim To Restrict Abortion Access, Increase Costs, Advocates Say

While abortion-rights opponents claim that the delays give women more time to think about their decision, people who support abortion rights contend that the delays are part of an effort to limit abortion access. They note that most women do not waiver in their decision to have an abortion, as has been confirmed in at least one study, The Atlantic reports.

Further, abortion-rights supporters also have said the mandatory delays impose additional costs and add logistical hurdles to the process of obtaining an abortion, which already can be too costly for some women.

According to The Atlantic, there are few recent studies about the effect of delays, though earlier research shows how delays can affect cost. For example, a 1981 study of an overturned mandatory delay law in Tennessee, which was struck down in 2000, found that 62% of respondents said having to visit the clinic twice increased costs because of travel expenses, childcare costs and lost income. More recently, a survey conducted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that nearly 50% of respondents said Texas' 24-hour mandatory delay imposed an average of $146 in additional costs.

In speaking out against the Florida mandatory delay measure, Jessica González-Rojas, executive director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, said such delays "would create needless and burdensome logistical and financial barriers." She added, "Furthermore, these policies would have a disproportionately negative impact on Latinas, immigrant women, young women and women of color across the state, who already struggle to get the care they need" (Khazan, The Atlantic, 5/26).