Abortion rights: Access under threat as a third of independent clinics have shut down in the last five years

As of 2012, the US had 510 independent abortion clinics open. Fast forward to November 2019, the numbers have plummeted to 344


                            Abortion rights: Access under threat as a third of independent clinics have shut down in the last five years

The controversy over abortion rights in the country has delivered a blow to independent abortion clinics. Nearly a third of all them have shut down in the last five years, according to a recent report.

This is leaving many women without safe and meaningful access to abortion throughout their pregnancy, says the report by Abortion Care Network.

Over the last decade, abortion clinics have been closing at an alarming rate, most of which are independent abortion care providers. As of 2012, the US had 510 independent abortion clinics open. Fast forward to November 2019, the numbers have plummeted to 344 clinics. The total number of independent clinics in this country has decreased by over 32 percent since 2012.

The report finds that since 2014, over 136 independent abortion clinics have shut operations. As of November 2019, the researchers confirm 26 independent clinic closures in 2019.

The report finds that since 2014, over 136 independent abortion clinics have shut operations. (Getty Images)

About 58% of abortions in the US are performed at independant clinics. These clinics have been at the forefront of the fight for women's right to abortion. "Independent clinics serve some of the most politically hostile areas of the country, provide a breadth of reproductive health services, and work with their communities and local abortion funds to ensure that services are available to those patients with the fewest resources for accessing care," reads the report.

What is worse, some states rely only these clinics to handle abortion cases. Independent abortion care providers are the only ones to provide in-clinic abortion in Arkansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Without them, the report says, abortion access in these four states would be limited to medication abortion within the first 10 to 11 weeks of pregnancy. Further, six states have only one abortion clinic remaining and seven states are served entirely by independent clinics.

The recent shift in the balance of the Supreme Court means access to legal abortion care is under imminent threat. (Getty Images)

The report comes amid brewing tensions in the country. The recent shift in the balance of the Supreme Court means access to legal abortion care is under imminent threat. In the 2018-2019 legislative session, over 250 abortion restrictions were introduced. Dozens of states passed abortion restrictions, with several states passing near-total abortion bans that are currently being challenged in the court system, says the report.

With some support, the authors of the report believe that independent providers can be saved. "They lack visibility, institutional support, and sustainable financial resources. They rely on individuals and communities to help keep doors open through donating, volunteering, organizing, and advocating in order to continue to serve patients in their communities," says the research team in their findings.

They say, "With the future of abortion rights in the US under imminent threat, supporting independent abortion care providers and keeping clinic doors open is critical to protecting meaningful access to care. Without these courageous providers, meaningful access to abortion throughout pregnancy is merely a right in name alone." 

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