n the year since Carrie Klaege moved to Arizona and started a non-profit program to help poor women afford abortions, she’s watched access to the procedure get tougher for her clients.
Following a rash of new laws, abortions are no longer available at clinics outside Tucson and Phoenix and women must wait 24 hours after required ultrasound tests before terminating pregnancies -- forcing some to travel hundreds of miles and stay overnight. Klaege said she’s now making connections in other states where she could send women if the courts allow a ban on later abortions to take effect.
“Abortion is legal, but when you have to travel 300 miles to get to a clinic that provides the services you need, you don’t really have access,” says Klaege, co-founder of the Abortion Access Network of Arizona and the former clinic director for Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician murdered in 2009 for performing abortions. “The availability and access to services is being severely impacted, and it is starting to cause some real difficulty for women.”
Over the past two years, state lawmakers across the U.S. have been passing new abortion restrictions at a record pace. Dozens of laws stipulating who can perform abortions, how abortion pills can be administered, tighter building standards for abortion clinics and what women need to do before abortions have been enacted -- helping create a patchwork of access to the procedure that the U.S. Supreme Court deemed a constitutional right almost 40 years ago.