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What Texas' New Abortion Law Means For The People Who Seek And Provide Them

A security guard opens the door to the Whole Women's Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, on Sept. 1, 2021. A new Texas law bans abortions as early as six weeks after conception.
LM Otero
A security guard opens the door to the Whole Women's Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, on Sept. 1, 2021. A new Texas law bans abortions as early as six weeks after conception.

Updated September 2, 2021 at 12:19 PM ET

Texas' new abortion law is one of the strictest in the country. It bans abortions after about six weeks, allows private citizens to sue anyone perceived to be helping patients obtain abortions and doesn't make exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.

Kathy Kleinfeld, an administrator with Houston Women's Reproductive Services, spoke to NPR's Morning Edition about who the law impacts most, and how it's being felt already.

"There's been quite a bit of shock, desperation, frustration — a whole gamut of emotions," Kleinfeld says. "The devastation is just immeasurable at this point. And it continues daily, whether it's on the phone or email requests from desperate women trying to seek services."

Interview highlights

The effects of the abortion ban won't be felt equally. People who have the means will always be able to obtain abortions, Kleinfeld says, noting the same was true even before Roe v. Wade. "This does not help the women who don't have the resources, who are not able to travel out of state, who don't have child care, who don't have jobs, don't have reliable transportation," she adds.

The law further shortens someone's required timeline for scheduling an abortion, provided they even know they're pregnant. Six weeks is essentially when a person finds out that they're expecting (after missing a period and having a test detect a pregnancy). Kleinfeld ticks through the list of things they would have to do in a matter of days: make a decision, schedule an appointment and — as Texas law requires — make two clinic visits no less than 24 hours apart. "So the clock is really ticking, and the reality is that women don't realize this until right at that point, with maybe just a few days to spare," she says.

Clinics will have to point people to other states. Kleinfeld notes the law pertains only to aiding and abetting people to obtain an abortion within Texas, so her clinic is telling people they will have to seek services in other states. There are national directories and various agencies that can help with that.

She's already seeing the law's impact on people seeking services. Kleinfeld says her clinic is already seeing fewer patients — and is no longer able to help many of them. Among the patients who have come in this week: A mother of three who traveled to Houston as part of a group evacuating from Hurricane Ida, sleeping in a hotel with 11 children and five adults, so she could obtain an abortion before Sept. 1.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog and was produced and edited for broadcast by Ryan Benk and Mohamad ElBardicy.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.