Texas women driving hundreds of miles to seek abortions from neighbouring states

Texas women driving hundreds of miles to seek abortions from neighbouring states
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The 33-year-old Texas woman drove alone four hours through the night to get to the Louisiana abortion clinic for a consultation. She initially planned to sleep in her car, but an advocacy group helped arrange a hotel room.

Single and with three children ranging from 5 to 13, she worried that adding a baby now would take time, food, money and space away from her three children. She doesn’t have a job, and without help from groups offering a safe abortion, she said, she probably would have sought another way to end her pregnancy.

“If you can’t get rid of the baby, what’s the next thing you’re going to do? You’re going to try to get rid of it yourself. So I’m thinking: ‘What could I do? What are some home remedies that I could do to get rid of this baby, to have a miscarriage, to abort it?’ And it shouldn’t be like that. I shouldn’t have to do that. I shouldn’t have to think like that, feel like that, none of that.

“We have to be heard. This has got to change. It’s not right.”

She was one of more than a dozen women who arrived Saturday at the Hope Medical Group for Women, a single-story brick building with covered windows just south of downtown Shreveport. Some came alone. Others were accompanied by a friend or a partner. Some brought their children because they were unable to get child care.

All were seeking to end pregnancies, and most were from neighboring Texas, where the  nation’s most restrictive abortion law  remains in effect. It prohibits abortions , after about six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest. As a result, abortion clinics in  surrounding states are being inundated  with Texas women.


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Like many of the others, the 33-year-old Texas mother said she tried to schedule an abortion closer to home, but she was too far along. By the time she arrived at the clinic for the abortion on Saturday, she was just past nine weeks and had to undergo a surgical abortion rather than using medication. She said the ordeal left her angry with the Texas politicians who passed the law.

“If I had to keep this baby, ain’t no telling what would’ve happened. I probably would’ve went crazy, and they don’t understand that,” she said, her voice filled with emotion.

A 25-year-old woman made the 70-mile trip south from Texarkana, on the border of Texas and Arkansas. She said she was already five weeks along before she realized she was pregnant, and she knew it would be impossible to schedule the required two visits at a Texas clinic. By the time she was able to make an appointment in Shreveport, her pregnancy was almost too advanced for a medication abortion.

“Luckily I found out when I did, because then I was still able to take the pill rather than the surgery,” she said.

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The Texas law has been bouncing between courts for weeks. The Biden administration urged the courts again Monday to suspend it. That effort came three days after a federal appeals court reinstated the law following a blistering lower-court ruling that created a brief 48-hour window last week in which Texas abortion providers rushed to bring in patients again.

The anti-abortion campaign that fueled the law aims to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, where abortion opponents hope the conservative coalition assembled under President Donald Trump will end the constitutional right to abortion established by the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

As most of the women entered the clinic’s parking lot, they were met by anti-abortion protesters, mostly from East Texas, who regularly make the trip to Shreveport.

John Powers, 44, a machinist from Jacksonville, Texas, said he typically makes the nearly two-hour drive twice a month with the goal of getting any woman to change her mind. In the 13 years he’s been protesting outside clinics, he says he’s convinced two women not to go through with their abortions, which he calls “turnarounds.”

“I’m not going to say it happens a lot,” said Powers, who has six children and supports any law that makes it harder for women to get an abortion. “Let’s say I never have another turnaround, that one baby that can now grow up and marry and have her own children, go to school and maybe become a journalist. That’d be worth it, easily worth it to me.”

Once inside the clinic, women are greeted by staff members who offer assurance and understanding. The clinic director put her arm around one woman as she escorted her to the back of the clinic. A television in a corner of the waiting room is tuned to Black Entertainment Television. A separate “chill room” with soft music and large leather couches offers patients a chance to rest before their procedure.
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