Pro-life advocates have seized upon an effective strategy to restrict abortion services. Legislators in Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas have inserted increasingly restrictive abortion legislation into unrelated bills. In so doing, they are using a common and effective legal technique to eliminate abortion altogether.
To address this strategy, pro-choice advocates are using all the tools at their disposal, including grassroots and legislative measures. Meanwhile, a contingency plan must be put into place to ensure that women have continued access to safe and reliable reproductive services.
Such a plan must include cost-effective private transportation to appointments , funding that enables service providers to upgrade their facilities to meet new ambulatory surgical requirements, and encouragement for abortion providers to consolidate their operations in locations where they can easily comply with the laws.
Planned Parenthood has already begun to implement such a plan. They are merging their Kentucky and Indiana operations to maintain services in that region. While the organization states that the merger is designed to create an economy of scale that will allow it to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act, but it will also allow the organization to bring much needed women’s health care, including reproductive services, to rural Kentucky. In 2012, three Texas Planned Parenthood branches merged “into one $29 million-per-year, 26-clinic mega-organization,” the New York Times reported, stating that the organization's leaders believe “that joining forces is the best way to defend against an onslaught of anti-abortion legislation — and to connect the fund-raising powerhouses concentrated in North Texas.”
Many private abortion providers are also merging with Planned Parenthood due to the prohibitive expenses imposed by the new measures.
While the measures, collectively known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, are ostensibly an effort to prevent the type of atrocity that occurred in the Pennsylvania clinic run by Kermit Gosnell, they are effectively designed to reduce the number of abortions performed by making services harder to reach, more difficult to provide, and cumbersome for the women involved.
These measures will do nothing more than drive up costs and push services underground. Pro-choice.org reports that “95% of women who need abortions have them in clinics or in private doctors' offices where costs can be kept low without increasing health risks.”
David Grimes, the former chief of abortion surveillance at the CDC, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek, that "These kinds of regulations do nothing to advance women's health ... All they do is drive up the cost of care and cause women to delay, which drives up the risks.”
Pro-life individuals will not rest until abortions are eliminated, but that is never going to happen. There have always been abortions, and there always will be abortions. Our goal should be the preservation of safe and reliable services for women who wish to maintain control over their bodies and exercise their reproductive rights.
As conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans are wont to remind us, government prohibition only serves to create unsafe underground markets.
Interestingly enough, many of the proponents of these new measures are using the state to intervene in matters of health, which increases costs and interferes with the market. Ironically, or hypocritically, many of the same individuals are conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans who abhor state intervention and the expenses and market distortions that come with it. I guess it is OK if the state is working in their favor.