Tennessee has become the first state in the nation to pass a law criminalizing women for their pregnancy outcomes. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam took the 10 days allotted to him to consider the advice of doctors, addiction experts and reproductive health groups urging him to veto the punitive and dangerous measure that allows prosecutors to charge a woman with criminal assault if she uses illegal drugs during her pregnancy and her fetus or newborn is considered harmed as a result. Haslam ignored these recommendations — and the recommendations of nearly every major medical association, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy — and signed the measure anyway.
Texas, like so many other states in the country, is in the middle of a reproductive health crisis. As a result of the state’s sweeping new abortion restrictions (and years of Republican-led assaults on clinics and women’s health programs), 34 clinics have been forced to scale back services or cease providing abortions altogether; 12 clinics have closed outright. Shuttered clinics and reduced services have created access deserts when it comes to abortion, leaving thousands of women across the state — particularly in the Rio Grande Valley region — with no meaningful way to obtain reproductive healthcare.
A barrage of state-level restrictions on abortion clinics — often, unnecessary regulations requiring them to widen their hallways, upgrade their air filtration systems, and form special agreements with hospitals — has forced a wave of clinic closures across the country. Since 2010, more than 50 abortion clinics have been forced to close their doors.
According to a Huffington Post analysis, at least 52 abortion clinics across 26 states have shut down since 2010. The shrinking number of abortion providers in the country is a direct result of harsh state laws that are specifically intended to target clinics. Those type of anti-abortion measures — known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — have dramatically spread over the past three years. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 27 states now have unnecessary TRAP laws on the books.