“We have seen the devastating impact of these restrictions,” says Planned Parenthood
New York, NY – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments in the Center for Reproductive Rights’ case against a severe Texas law, which had forced more than a dozen health centers to stop providing safe, legal abortion overnight when it was allowed to briefly go into effect on October 2, 2014. This left nearly a million Texas women of reproductive age more than 150 miles from the nearest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood witnessed the catastrophic impact these restrictions had on Texas women, as Planned Parenthood continued to provide safe, legal abortion at ambulatory surgical centers in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Thankfully, on October 14, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court protected access to safe, legal abortion in Texas by temporarily blocking the restrictions while the case proceeds.
Today’s arguments follow a growing list of court orders in recent months blocking TRAP laws (targeted restrictions on abortion providers) that threaten women’s access to safe, legal abortion, including in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
“Within hours of these restrictions taking effect, we witnessed the devastating impact on women across the state. We were inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients, and saw women lined up outside our doors the next morning,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We hope the courts will ultimately heed the advice of medical experts and strike down this dangerous law.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes TRAP laws because they pose a risk to women’s health by reducing timely access to safe and legal abortion, especially in places where providers of safe and legal abortion are already limited. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Moreover, for patients’ safety, providers have plans in place in case of an emergency.
Within hours of the Texas restrictions taking effect and before the Supreme Court’s order, Planned Parenthood witnessed its catastrophic impact — our centers were inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients, and women lined up outside our doors in the morning, waiting to see if they could still access the care they need at the Planned Parenthood health centers that remained open.
- Doris Dixon, a call center director for Planned Parenthood in Houston, shared a heartbreaking account of a woman who traveled from out-of-state and stayed in Houston overnight, only to find that she couldn’t obtain a procedure, writing: “I don’t know what will happen to her. I don’t know that I will ever stop thinking about her. And she is just one woman whose life has been turned upside down by this law.”
- In Houston, Planned Parenthood reported that its call volume from patients seeking abortion services increased 170 percent when the law was in effect.
- In the days after the order, Planned Parenthood in Austin received seven times as many calls about abortion services, as compared to typical averages.
- Across Central and North Texas, Planned Parenthood saw a daily average of four times as many calls from women seeking abortions.
- Many of these calls were from women living far outside the affiliates’ service regions, in cities such as Midland and McAllen, where providers have closed.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
January 07, 2015