New research finds that the number of abortion clinics in the U.S. has continued to decline this year, continuing a two-decade-long trend of providers closing their doors. Operation Rescue, which claims to be the only anti-abortion group that keeps tabs on the clinic closures, published its findings on Monday with a fervor that can only be attributed to glee. And as clinics keep shuttering, the safe abortion services promised to women under Roe v. Wade begin to disappear with increasing frequency.
Since 1991, 75 percent of surgical abortion clinics have closed, leaving only 551 open in the U.S. That, combined with medication-only facilities, means that there are only 739 remaining clinics in the U.S. today. In 2014 alone there were 73 abortion clinics that closed down for all of part of the year.
Even in the last five years there has been a relatively steady decline. Nearly 23 percent of surgical abortion clinics have closed since 2009, with each year seeing a dip of varying severity. The highest drop was between 2012 and 2013, when there was an astounding 82 closures in surgical clinics. Medical clinics have fared better, with a consistent increase between 2009 and 2012, a dip, and then a comeback from 2013 to 2014. Still, that means there is only a net of 57 new clinics in the last five years.
The Hill attributes the spikes in closures to the Republican takeover of the House in 2010 and huge GOP gains in state legislatures. Indeed, the war seems to be primarily fought at the state level. In the last legislative session, Missouri had 32 pieces of anti-abortion legislation filed to regulate its one surgical clinic open in the state. Texas continues to battle the omnibus abortion bill that was signed into law in 2013 that managed to shut down a large swath of the state's clinics. The ACLU sued to stop an Alabama law that would have appointed a lawyer for the fetus of a minor should she decide to ask the judge to waive parental consent laws.
So it isn't just the numbers that are staggering. It's the scope. And the fact is, as I and many people way smarter than me have said time and time again, limiting access to abortion is not an effective way to stop abortions. We're backing women into dangerous corners with these increasingly strict regulations. So shame on you, Operation Rescue, for not only delivering bad news, but relishing in it.
Images: Operation Rescue