APTOPIX Abortion Texas Louisiana Clinic
A 33-year-old mother of three from central Texas is escorted down the hall by clinic administrator Kathaleen Pittman prior to getting an abortion, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La. The woman was one of more than a dozen patients who arrived at the abortion clinic, mostly from Texas, where the nation's most restrictive abortion law remains in effect. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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'We have to be heard': Texas women travel to seek abortions

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By SEAN MURPHY

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 once cardiac activity is detected, 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.

The women agreed to speak to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity so they could talk openly about their experiences.

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.

While she was at the clinic, her husband waited for hours in the car with her young son, who is a toddler and is still breastfeeding. They had no one to watch him.

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.

Many of the women's stories are troubling for Kathaleen Pittman, the clinic administrator who started working in an abortion clinic 30 years ago. She said she recently spoke to a mother in Texas trying to get an abortion for her 13-year-old daughter, who was sexually assaulted.

“She's a child," Pittman said. “She should not have to be on the road for hours getting here. It is absolutely heartbreaking."

Before the Texas law went into effect, Pittman said, about 20% of her clients were from Texas, mostly the eastern part of the state close to a three-state region called the Ark-La-Tex of about 1.5 million people, with Shreveport at its geographic center. Now that number is closer to 60%, and the women come hundreds of miles from Austin, Houston or San Antonio.

About 55,440 abortions were performed in Texas in 2017, according to the most recent data available from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, although some of those patients may have been women from out of state. Abortions performed in Texas account for more than 6% of all abortions in the U.S., Guttmacher reported.

With an estimated 1,000 women per week in Texas seeking an abortion, clinics in nearby states report being overwhelmed.

The Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City, which is about a three-hour drive from Dallas-Fort Worth, saw about 11 patients from Texas in August. In September, after the Texas law went into effect, that number jumped to 110, and phones at the clinic are ringing constantly, said Rebecca Tong, co-executive director of Trust Women, which also operates a clinic in Wichita, Kansas.

“Many of them are trying to literally drive through the night and then show up at 8 a.m. for their appointment, having not rested," Tong said. “It’s just not a good situation to go into an outpatient surgery having driven through the evening and think you can just go right home afterward."

The Texas law and the difficulty in scheduling out-of-state appointments also force women to wait longer, which means greater expense, more risk and fewer options for terminating the pregnancy, Tong said.

Legislators in some states surrounding Texas hope to implement a similar law that would prevent most abortions. In Oklahoma, Republican state Sen. Julie Daniels wrote or sponsored four separate measures to further restrict the practice. All four laws are being challenged in court.

When asked to respond to the Texas women, Daniels said her calculation is not complicated.

“The calculus is simple and straightforward: An unborn child is a child. It's a life. It's simply that, and so it's not any more complicated than that," she said. “I'm concerned first and foremost with the life of the unborn child."

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

The lengths “conservatives” and republicans will go to force their values on others is astounding. They don’t hesitate to use the government to do so.

Compete and utter hypocrites who care for constitutional rights when applied to themselves.

Foul.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

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.”

That says it all right there: American woman get away from meehe

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Well, Texas made its decision, so if women as so bent on wanting to get an abortion, just go to a state that allows it, the people in Texas overwhelmingly have spoken.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The lengths “conservatives” and republicans will go to force their values on others is astounding.

I know you didn’t say that with a straight face.

They don’t hesitate to use the government to do so.

In the way this government is doing now by exceeding its constitutional role and power?

Compete and utter hypocrites who care for constitutional rights when applied to themselves.

That goes both ways.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

bass4funkToday  10:30 am JST

Well, Texas made its decision, so if women as so bent on wanting to get an abortion, just go to a state that allows it, the people in Texas overwhelmingly have spoken.

A “near majority” supporting a law is not the people overwhelmingly supporting that law.

https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/19/near-majority-texans-favor-outlawing-abortion-after-six-weeks-ut-tt/

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A “near majority” supporting a law is not the people overwhelmingly supporting that law.

Yeah, the liberal tries to continuously tell us this, but we know the real truth in this state

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Yeah, the liberal tries to continuously tell us this, but we know the real truth in this state

The liberal?

Well, let me tell you this. One of my cousins works with someone who is married to the Almighty, and according to the Almighty, the near majority of Texans are on the wrong side of the moral argument here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Same question as before: Do conservatives here support the law as it's written? Including rape and incest?

If not, why are you fighting for it?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Well, let me tell you this. One of my cousins works with someone who is married to the Almighty, and according to the Almighty, the near majority of Texans are on the wrong side of the moral argument here.

Anyway, let’s get back to reality, the Dems are not going to change what the majority of Texans want, too bad, tough, deal with it. But there are other states that can perform the procedure if that’s what a woman thinks she needs to do.

Do conservatives here support the law as it's written? Including rape and incest?

There is always and exception to the rule.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Bass: There is always and exception to the rule.

Do you support the law as it's written?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

bass4funk

Well, Texas made its decision, so if women as so bent on wanting to get an abortion, just go to a state that allows it, the people in Texas overwhelmingly have spoken.

Actually, no they did not. There was no referendum?

Support the right of Texas women/females to decide what happens with their bodies. Their body, their choice. Just like you do with vaccinations.

A law made by male lawmakers who put the onus on citizens rather than taking responsibility for their laws.

No acceptions for rape and incest is a cruel law.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well, Texas made its decision, so if women as so bent on wanting to get an abortion, just go to a state that allows it

Or vote out the current government and choose someone who is better.

We'll see just how many women in the state the governor has made angry by telling them what they're allowed to do with their bodies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

bass4funkToday  12:06 pm JST

Do conservatives here support the law as it's written? Including rape and incest?

There is always and exception to the rule.

Not for this law. Do you support this law as it’s written?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Actually, no they did not. There was no referendum? 

Yeah, the left keeps perpetuating that myth

Support the right of Texas women/females to decide what happens with their bodies. Their body, their choice.

They can in another state. No worries.

Just like you do with vaccinations.

Different, I’m not taking a developing life

No acceptions for rape and incest is a cruel law

Not true, there’s always an exception in those cases

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Not for this law. Do you support this law as it’s written?

I support the law, but that doesn’t mean exceptions should be overlooked

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Not true, there’s always an exception in those cases

No they're not. There are no exceptions for rape or incest under this law.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I support the law, but that doesn’t mean exceptions should be overlooked

Exceptions are overlooked. So do you support the law or not?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The fact of the matter is that if you support this law then you think that a woman getting pregnant after her father rapes her means that she should be forced to carry that baby to term. It is a grotesque position to hold. But if you support this law, it is one that you hold.

Note that I am not accusing anyone in particular. But I am saying that the inevitable consequence of this law is that a woman, or even an underage girl, who is raped by a relative will be forced to bear that child.

That's what supporters of this law want.

Supporters of this law are deviants.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No they're not. There are no exceptions for rape or incest under this law.

Nonsense, there’s always an exception, the law is not absolute and is not immune from being challenged in such cases.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Nonsense, there’s always an exception, the law is not absolute and is not immune from being challenged in such cases.

There are not. That's the entire point of this law.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Exceptions are overlooked. So do you support the law or not?

I gave the answer already.

Note that I am not accusing anyone in particular. But I am saying that the inevitable consequence of this law is that a woman, or even an underage girl, who is raped by a relative will be forced to bear that child.

That is not the case and again, you can go to another state and get an abortion or better yet, give the child up for adoption.

Supporters of this law are deviants

Many of us feel the same about those that don’t support it.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

There are not. That's the entire point of this law.

No, there is always an exception to the law. I read it in its entirety. Don’t believe the left hype.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I gave the answer already.

I cannot believe that you do, because it would mean you support forcing underage girls to be forced to give birth to a child created by rape from a relative.

That is not the case and again, you can go to another state and get an abortion or better yet, give the child up for adoption.

Why should you have to go to another state? Poor people can't do that easily. I know the right despise the poor, but surely, surely you have sympathy for a girl who has been raped by a relative? Don't you? You accept that rape and incest should be exceptions (even though in Texas they're not), so why not make it easy for them to access these exceptions? Why make it prohibitively expensive and difficult?

If I dropped you in the middle of the Mojave with no food or water, I could say, "just go to the supermarket". That's an option that's not really an option. That's what this law does for rape victims.

Many of us feel the same about those that don’t support it.

Because we don't think that girls raped by a relative should be forced to bear their child?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bass: I support the law

Fair enough.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I cannot believe that you do,

I do though

Why should you have to go to another state?

Because Texas decided. 

If I dropped you in the middle of the Mojave with no food or water, I could say, "just go to the supermarket". That's an option that's not really an option. That's what this law does for rape victims.

I don't do hypotheticals 

Because we don't think that girls raped by a relative should be forced to bear their child?

I never said, nor implied that.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Nonsense, there’s always an exception, the law is not absolute and is not immune from being challenged in such cases.

Then prove it. Prove there are actual exceptions in the law. There aren't. www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/09/26/texas-gov-abbott-still-refuses-to-add-rape-and-incest-exemptions-to-abortion-law/amp/

Also, I'd like to point out that your insistence that there are exceptions sounds oddly pro-choice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Also, I'd like to point out that your insistence that there are exceptions sounds oddly pro-choice.

Yeah, well I am pro-life.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Yeah, well I am pro-life.

lmao How are you pro-life when you support exceptions to abortion bans in instances of rape and incest? Are some lives just worth less? Are some lives okay to abort? Yes or no.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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