Bartender Kathryn Holburn posted a first-person account of her struggle to get an abortion in Texas on Sunday. Thanks to the state’s anti-choice HB 2 law of 2013, Holburn wrote, abortion clinics across the state had closed, forcing Holborn to travel 600 miles to get to a clinic. In the end, she paid $800 for transportation plus the actual procedure.
“I want the Texas Legislature to know who I am,” Holburn wrote in her post, which was posted on Tomorrow.tech. “I am one of their constituents and I was wronged by a law that they said was supposed to help me.”
A day after Holburn’s article was published, women across the country celebrated the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision to Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, which struck down the restrictive Texas abortion law that Holborn refers to in his article. The victory was personal for many women, who flocked to Reddit to share their own experiences.
Holburn had to take time off work and cross state lines to access timely abortion services. And she is not alone. “My girlfriend and I are in the lovely state of Texas, and we had to fly to California to get a quick procedure,” wrote editor _Krug.
Texas laws even affect women who try to have children but find themselves in tragic circumstances. Women with failed pregnancies face the same barriers as women with unwanted pregnancies trying to access medical services for safe pregnancy termination. A few months ago, an editor shared a story in /r/Austin about his wife being forced by Texas law to carry a hopeless pregnancy to term.
“We tried a litany of emergency measures, but the bag [sic] was already outside the womb. There was nothing we could do,” 11th_Doctor_Whom wrote. “Because of this, and her age, any attempt to induce labor would be considered a late abortion… These laws made my wife feel that our child struggled inside her for days. . We cried ourselves to sleep every night. We spent four days inside and outside the hospital waiting for nature to take its course.”
“The same thing happened with me at 8.5 weeks in Texas,” wrote rebel_nature, “I begged for a layoff because I knew I couldn’t survive any longer if I just waited for the inevitable “.
Even though it has been 43 years since Roe vs. Wade recognized women’s legal right to abortion, restrictive state laws have created barriers for women who struggle to exercise this right. These laws particularly affect low-income women and women of color: as Holburn pointed out, if she had not been able to afford her abortion, her legal right to terminate her pregnancy “would have remained only a concept abstract”.
Lack of access to safe abortions has led some women to turn to other, more dangerous methods of pregnancy termination. A study from the University of Texas, for example, estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 Texas women have attempted voluntary abortions, which the researchers said showed an upward trend since access to Local abortion clinics became more restrictive in 2013.
Now, the Supreme Court’s decision is poised to impact women across the country by striking down laws requiring providers to meet the same construction standards as ambulatory surgical centers, costly new mandates that have forced many clinics to close. The case also set a powerful precedent for women challenging state laws governing their bodies, deeming it unconstitutional to force women to travel long distances to access basic health services.
The legal debate may be universal, but its impact on women’s lives is deeply personal, as these women’s stories demonstrate.