After the Tea Party movement led to Republicans taking control of most state legislatures in 2010, they immediately made abortion their first priority and have passed an unprecedented wave of laws that have now forced more than 50 clinics to close down around the country, with a lot more almost certainly on the way.
According to a Huffington Post analysis, at least 52 abortion clinics across 26 states have shut down since 2010. The shrinking number of abortion providers in the country is a direct result of harsh state laws that are specifically intended to target clinics. Those type of anti-abortion measures — known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — have dramatically spread over the past three years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 27 states now have unnecessary TRAP laws on the books.
Not every single clinic closure over the past three years was the direct result of state legislation. But the sheer number of abortion providers shutting down is unprecedented.
“This kind of change is incredibly dramatic,” Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told the Huffington Post in reference to the dozens of recent clinic closures. Nash explained that although there’s been a slow decline in the number of legal abortion providers since 1982, the dramatic changes over the past several years are “so different from what’s happened in the past.”
There are likely to be even more closures in the near future. States like Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin pushed through new TRAP laws this summer that will likely force some clinics in those states to consolidate or shut down altogether. Litigation has successfully prevented other states like Mississippi and Alabama from shuttering clinics, but those providers will only be able to keep operating as long as courts continue ruling in their favor. The diminished access to quality providers is already forcing many women to cross state lines to get an abortion.
As a result, the right to choose is functionally gone for women who live in wide swaths of the country. And so is access to birth control, prenatal care, cancer screening and other services, especially for poor and minority women.