Closets, Air Conditioning, And Water Fountains: The Current Anti-Choice Weapons Against Abortion
On Saturday, a package of controversial abortion restrictions won final approval in the Texas legislature. The restrictions, which Gov. Rick Perry (R) will likely sign into law this week, will transform the reproductive landscape in the state by forcing the vast majority of abortion clinics to shut down.
So why exactly are abortion clinics being forced to close in Texas, as well as in the mounting number of other states that are pushing similar regulations? It’s not because they’re providing unsafe care and they need to drastically change their practices. In fact, Texas’ health department has confirmed that the clinics currently operating in the Lone Star State are extremely safe.
Usually, it’s actually because clinics can’t afford to make the expensive, unnecessary updates required under state laws. And that’s exactly the point, since those state-level measures are specifically designed to regulate them out of business. This type of indirect attack on reproductive access is known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, and it’s an increasingly popular anti-choice strategy. Here are just a few examples of costly renovations that TRAP laws require abortion clinics to make, and that ultimately put them out of business:
New air conditioning: The high-profile murder trial of Kermit Gosnell, an illegal Philadelphia-area abortion provider who preyed on low-income women, inspired anti-choice activists to push for tighter regulations on legal clinics that were already operating above-board. Pennsylvania passed a TRAP law, and clinics in the state began closing their doors. One Planned Parenthood clinic in the state was able to stay open, but only after spending nearly a half a million dollars in renovations to get two of its clinics in line with the new regulations — which involved installing hands-free sinks, replacing the floors, and updating the air-conditioning system.
Fireproof doors: After Illinois enacted a TRAP law specially in response to Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, clinics in the state were forced to make expensive renovations to their facilities. One clinic in Peoria spent about $10,000 to meet the standards of the “architectural inspection” required under the law.$4,000 of that went specifically to replacing the wooden doors to two storage rooms with fireproof ones instead.
Bigger janitor’s closets: Kansas started working hard to shut down abortion clinics in 2011, when the state rushed through harsh regulations and gave clinics just a few weeks to comply with the new rules. One of the state’s clinics closed shortly thereafter because it couldn’t meet the stringent requirements — which included ensuring that every room where abortions may occur maintains a temperature between 68 and 73 degrees, has at least 150 square feet, and has its own janitor’s closet with 50 or more square feet.