Dec 2, 2021 - News

What the Supreme Court's docket means for Texas

Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Austinites might soon have to drive more than 575 miles — one way — to have an abortion.

Driving the news: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps let states ban the procedure altogether.

The big picture: Without Roe, abortion laws and access would vary by state. Texas is one of 12 states in which abortion would be immediately banned if the landmark 1973 case is overturned.

  • That would also be true in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas — three of the four states that border Texas.

New Mexico is the only neighboring state that has codified the right to abortion.

By the numbers: If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the average American would need to travel around 125 miles to reach the nearest abortion provider, compared to the current average of 25 miles, according to a Myers Abortion Facility database.

  • And the percentage of people living more than 200 miles away from a provider would increase from 1% to 29%, according to the database.
  • Plus, the top 10 furthest drives to an abortion provider are all Texas counties. Cameron County, at the southern tip of Texas, would be the start of the country’s furthest drive, or 831.2 miles, to Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

Of note: The drive from Austin to an abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico is 589 miles.

  • As of September, in the wake of Texas' own restrictive abortion law, wait times at New Mexico clinics were as long as 20 days, per research by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas.
  • "These waits may push pregnant people past the limit for medication abortion or into the second trimester of pregnancy, when procedures have a somewhat higher risk of complications compared to those obtained earlier in pregnancy," the UT researchers observed.
    • "Those who are able to travel out of state face economic hardships related to covering the cost of travel, lodging, lost wages and childcare, in addition to their abortion, which together could sum well over $1,000," they added.

The bottom line: "A ruling for Mississippi by SCOTUS would create a lot of additional pressure on the facilities where abortion remains accessible," Kari White, who leads the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, tells Axios.

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