By John Stang
Sarah Kiff at the Washington Post explains how “supply side” attacks on abortion are becoming more and more common in states:
Increasingly though, laws have targeted the supply-side of abortion: the doctors. Both Kansas and Virginia this passed stringent new licensing standards for abortion clinics. TheKansas regulation requires procedure rooms of at least 150 square feet and janitorial space of 50 square feet. Dressing rooms for patients must have a toilet, washing station and storage for clothing. Virginia has required abortion clinics to comply to hospital standards, which often means widening hallways and expanding procedure rooms. Other states, like Missouri, have also passed similar, supply-side restrictions in recent years.
Supply side restrictions on abortion seem to have a big impact. Joyce’s paper looks at a recent Texas law, which had both a demand side component (a 24-hour waiting period) and a supply-side one (all abortions after 16 weeks had to be performed at a surgical center). He finds that abortions after 16 weeks saw a much more dramatic drop, indicating that the latter restriction had a more powerful effect than an across-the-board waiting period.
This is part of a larger strategy. Conservatives have lost the abortion fight on the national level, since there is little chance that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, so they have decided to take their fight to the states. Since they can’t outlaw abortion outright, they can make it either a) a burden for women to get an abortion or b) make it nearly impossible for doctors to do the procedure. This is why state level politics is important. It takes a lot of energy to repeal a law, but it takes little to hurt the enforcement of it. This trend goes beyond abortion funding, congress has decided not to write regulations for the healthcare bill or fund it properly. The Dodd-Frank Financial reform bill is the same story.
The key here is that Republicans, to their credit, have found a way to attack laws they don’t like. You can’t take away the New York Yankees right to play baseball, but if you take away all their best equipment and trade some of their best players, it certainly weakens their chances at success. That not only helps the narrative that government is ineffective, it makes it real too.