What occurs to individuals who can’t have abortions?

On the morning that Texas’s restrictive new abortion law went into effect, an ultrasound scan of Marva Sadler’s first patient revealed fetal heart activity, rendering the woman ineligible for a legal abortion.

Sadler, senior director of clinical services for Whole Woman’s Health, said the woman is a single mother of two and has just started a new job. She had no one to look after her children and could not leave work to travel to another state to have an abortion.

“It was the first real punch of ‘I really can’t fix this.’ How do you answer that? And that conversation quickly led us to figure out how to get her prenatal care, ”said Sadler.

In the 48 hours leading up to September 1, Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas was performing an average of 66 abortions a day. However, for the first three days after the law went into effect, the clinic performed an average of 11 abortions per day.

“The women who not only live in this state – but also work, pay taxes, vote, pray and raise the future leaders of this community – are denied their basic right to health care,” said Sadler.

In Houston, Doris Dixon, director of patient access for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said that abortion service call centers have become hotlines where staff “guide patients through this new law” and help them “navigate where they can go.” ”

“Patients have problems and staff have problems,” said Dixon.

Since the law went into effect, Dixon has said most of the patients she has observed who sought help at the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston are ineligible for an abortion.

“Some of these are beyond our capabilities,” said Dixon. “There are no babysitting services that people can send their children to while they are out of the state, and there is no guarantee that they will not lose their job because they would be gone for two or three days. The problem is much bigger than just finding resources so they can go elsewhere. “

“People will fall through the cracks and end up having their pregnancies,” she added.

The new law prohibits abortions once heart activity is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant. The law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest. Texas has been since Roe v. Wade became the first state to effectively prohibit abortion at this point in pregnancy.

Many outside of Texas will be unable to perform an abortion due to financial or cumbersome challenges, including travel expenses, difficulty getting off work, or childcare.

Abortion rights advocates and vendors say Senate Bill 8, as the new bill is known, is likely to lead to an increase in the number of patients carrying unwanted pregnancies. As a result, many will feel the financial and health repercussions of being turned away from a clinic for years to come.

Refusal to abort leads to economic hardship

While people of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds have an abortion, about half of all people who do an abortion live below the federal poverty line. If someone who is already struggling financially is denied care, it puts them in an even more difficult economic situation, said Diana Greene Foster, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the University of California at San Francisco.

Foster leads the Turnaway Study, a nationwide project that looked at the long-term effects of an abortion or rejection. The study found that people denied an abortion were nearly four times more likely to be below the federal poverty line.

Protesters against abortion rights outside the Texas State Capitol on September 1st.File Sergio Flores / The Washington Post via Getty Images

When individuals are prevented from receiving care, they are more likely to find it difficult to afford basic living costs such as food, shelter, and transportation.

Meanwhile, people who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term saw a 78 percent increase in debt that was overdue a month or more after the time of birth, and an 81 percent increase in bankruptcy, eviction, and tax lien reports Compared to others who had access to abortion assistance. People denied an abortion are also three times more likely to be unemployed than those who have received an abortion.

“Laws that restrict access to abortion have a huge economic impact,” said Kate Bahn, director of labor policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “Not only is it year-over-year financial hardship associated with having children, but it also affects people’s career paths.”

“If you are not sure about family planning, you will be much less likely to switch to a higher-paying profession and complete an apprenticeship,” added Bahn.

A likely increase in the psychological and physical health consequences

Refusing an abortion can greatly exacerbate psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem in the months following the refusal to have an abortion, and lead to life-threatening physical consequences that linger for years.

Before the law went into effect, Dr. Bhavik Kumar, an employed physician with the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, typically has 20 to 30 abortion patients a day. On September 1, he saw only six, and half had passed the new legal limit and had to be turned away.

Kumar warned that patients denied treatment could face “lifelong consequences.”

“The people who will suffer will be low-income people who already have poor access to health care and people of color, especially black women,” he said.

An analysis of the data from the Turnaway Study, which looked at the physical health of those who terminated and did not terminate their pregnancy five years after using an abortion, found that patients who had given birth were more likely to rate their health as “poor” and higher rates reported of chronic pain.

Abortion rights supporters gather in Edinburgh, Texas, September 1, to protest against Texas Senate Law 8 in front of Edinburgh City Hall.Joel Martinez / The Monitor via AP

The physical and mental stress of childbirth plays a role in these negative health outcomes, said Dr. Nisha Verma, a fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health and OB-GYN, who provides abortion care in the Washington, DC area. Those who are at term can experience excessive bleeding, postpartum depression, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure during childbirth.

“When we think about people’s health care, their pregnancies and their lives, every person is different and there is no law how [S.B. 8] can take into account any unique situation, “said Verma.

Carrying out an unwanted pregnancy is far more risky to a person’s physical health than an abortion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 700 people die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth each year in the United States, and the maternal mortality rate is 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. The total abortion-related complication rate is estimated to be around 2 percent, and death occurs in less than 1 in 100,000 abortions.

Domestic violence is also common among people seeking an abortion, with between 6 and 22 percent reporting recent intimate partner violence. Those who refuse to have an abortion are more likely to stay in contact with an abusive partner and raise the child alone.

“These are personal, intimate decisions, and when government steps in it changes people’s ability to care for themselves and their children and even have future children in better circumstances,” said Foster. “It’s not just political maneuvering, it’s real people’s lives.”

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