Rep. Farrar Seeks to Repeal Mandatory Twenty-Four Hour Waiting Period Due to Significant Negative Impact for Women's Health
Austin, TX— Preliminary findings by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project demonstrate the negative impact legislation passed during the 2011 session has had on women’s health.
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, Ibis Reproductive Health, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is a three-year initiative aimed at evaluating the impact the family planning cuts and abortion restrictions passed in 2011 have had on women across the state.
From August-December 2012, the group surveyed over 300 women on their perceptions regarding the mandatory consultation visit 24 hours before having an abortion. Almost one-third of the women reported that the waiting period had a negative effect on their emotional well-being. Moreover, the women faced physical hardships in just getting to the clinic. On average, women had to travel 42 miles, with some women traveling as far as 400 miles away from their home to find a clinic for their consultation visit.
Representative Jessica Farrar, Chair of the Women's Health Caucus, will be filing a bill this week to eliminate the 24-hour waiting period women in Texas currently face when seeking an abortion to stop the negative impact that this requirement has on women’s health. As Rep. Farrar stated, "Measures such as the mandatory waiting period have nothing to do with women's healthcare. Instead of finding ways to restrict abortions, the Legislature should focus on ways to reinstate funding for family planning services so that the rate of unintended births and abortions will decrease."
As Rep. Farrar went on to note, “The preliminary findings of the research conducted by Dr. Grossman and his colleagues as part of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project demonstrate that the mandatory waiting period the Texas Legislature imposed last session has had a negative effect on women's emotional well-being, imposed a physical hardship for these women, and is cost-prohibitive. On average, women reported spending $146 in unnecessary costs caused by the waiting period and the two trip requirement it creates, including the costs of travel, lodging accommodations, child care services, and unpaid time off of work."
Dr. Daniel Grossman, the vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health and an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California at San Francisco said, "We found that the requirement to visit the clinic at least twice was burdensome for some women and created logistical barriers to scheduling the abortion. Women also reported being equally confident about their decision after seeing the ultrasound and hearing its description."
Research shows that these new restrictions have done nothing to change women’s confidence in their decisions related to abortions. The Texas Policy Evaluation Project’s data show that the proportion of women who were confident in their decision to end their pregnancies remained unchanged before and after undergoing a sonogram and waiting 24 hours, but the experience had a significant negative impact on them financially and emotionally.
Heather Busby, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, applauded Rep. Farrar's legislation, “A woman facing the personal decision about abortion should be trusted to make this decision according to her own beliefs and in conjunction with her family and her healthcare provider, not legislators. I’m glad to see legislation filed based on sound research and not on the supposition of a talk radio host.”
The funding cuts and abortion restrictions that were implemented by the legislature have had serious implications for Texas women seeking access to safe legal abortions and family planning services.
“The two visit requirement places a tremendous burden on working mothers who are the majority of women in need of our services in Texas. Two or more days of travel, including gas and hotel, taking time off of work, and incurring additional childcare expenses - these are all burdens to a woman who is trying to provide for their family,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO of Whole Women’s Health. She went on to note, “These laws have nothing to do with informed consent or safety – they are unnecessary barriers to healthcare for the women of Texas.”
Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, praised Rep. Farrar’s efforts: “It is critical for women to have champions in the Texas State Legislature like Rep. Farrar working tirelessly to lift the state’s two trip requirement, which acts as a massive roadblock between women and their constitutionally protected health care. Texas women are fully capable of weighing their reproductive choices carefully and responsibly in consultation with their doctors without government interference.”
Support for the legislation was echoed by Sara Hutchinson the domestic program director of Catholics for Choice, “We support Representative Farrar’s legislation because it respects the consciences of all taxpayers in Texas. Catholics of good conscience can and do support a woman’s right to access a comprehensive range of reproductive healthcare services, including abortion and family planning. Politicians should not be creating obstacles for any woman making such a decision.”