A judge in Texas has dismissed claims that forcing poor women to make a 300 mile roundtrip to find an abortion provider is an undue burden.
Judge Edith Jones was responding to a claim from lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights about women living in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley area. It is now estimated that if a woman or girl in that area were to require an abortion, they would need to make a 300 mile trip both ways by car to get to the nearest provider in Corpus Christi. Judge Jones disagreed, glibly remarking:
“Do you know how long that takes in Texas at 75 miles an hour? This is a peculiarly flat and not congested highway.”
The hearing is the latest round in an on-going battle for reproductive rights in the Lone Star State. Over the summer, Texas approved some of the toughest anti-choice measures seen in the United States. The legislation came to national attention when state senator Wendy Davis staged an impassioned filibuster to prevent the package becoming law. Davis is now running for governor in Texas and protection of the rights of women and girls is a key issue in her campaign.
Even before these latest measures were passed, which forced dozens of abortion providers to close their doors due to deliberately stringent conditions, Texas was one of the worst places in the United States to be if you were a female and wanted your reproductive rights. Females in Texas seeking an abortion are forced to undergo a deliberate and invasive ultrasound, mandatory counseling designed to convince them to change their mind and have to wait a full 24-hours before the procedure.
Now, thanks to judges like Jones, who has a history of anti-choice activism, women will also be forced to make a long and costly trip to find a provider who can help them. Judge Jones’ claim that the trip is not an undue burden because the journey can easily be made by car shows just how out of touch conservative judges are when it comes to social issues.
According to thinkprogress.com:
[box type=”shadow”]”42 percent of the U.S. women who seek abortions have incomes that fall below the federal poverty line. These women typically don’t have easy access to transportation, or the means to take time off work to make a long trip to a clinic. And that’s not simply speculation; research into the subject has confirmed that women who live in states with harsh anti-choice laws, like Texas, struggle to get to the nearest clinic.”[/box]
It has been estimated that 22,000 women in Texas will lose access to abortions under the new measures. As is so often the case with abortion restrictions, it is the poorest and most vulnerable women who look set to suffer the most. As the numbers of women from poor backgrounds seeking abortions has increased over recent years, the tough new measures put in place are driving up the cost of the procedure.
This latest outburst is yet another example of out of touch conservative ideology trumping science and medicine. It is particularly distressing to see a female judge defending a law largely passed with the support of reactionary men, who are hitting women whom they will never meet, and whose lives they will never understand.