Regulating Abortion: Impact on Patients and Providers in Texas
The state of Texas began enforcement of the Woman’s Right to Know (WRTK) Act on January 1, 2004. The law requires that all abortions at 16 weeks gestation or later be performed in an ambulatory surgical center (ASC). In the month the law went into effect, not one of Texas’s 54 non-hospital abortion providers met the requirements of a surgical center. The effect was immediate and dramatic. The number of abortions performed in Texas at 16 weeks gestation or later dropped 88 %, from 3642 in 2003 to 446 in 2004, while the number of residents who left the state for a late abortion almost quadrupled. By 2006, an ASC had opened in 4 major cities down from 9 in 2003 but the abortion rate 16 weeks or more gestation remained 50 percent below its pre-Act level. Regulations of abortion providers that require new facilities or costly renovations could have profound effects on the market for second trimester abortions.
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