Here's how many abortion clinics closed in 2018: report

Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards, Austin, Texas, June 27, 2016.
Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards, Austin, Texas, June 27, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Forty abortion clinics nationwide either closed or stopped providing abortions in 2018, according to a report released by a pro-life group.

Operation Rescue, which maintains a thorough record of abortion clinics in the U.S., including documents of state violations and malpractice lawsuits against abortionists and their clinics, released a report on Monday listing the clinics that have closed. This includes both surgical abortion facilities and clinics that only provide abortion inducing drugs in which a miscarriage is induced and the mother is responsible for disposing of the baby at home. 

Operation Rescue defines “abortion clinics” as those businesses that conduct abortions outside a hospital setting.  There are two categories of abortion clinics:

  • Surgical Abortion Clinics: These offices conduct surgical abortions. Almost always, surgical facilities also distribute abortion-inducing drugs.
  • Medical Abortion Clinics: These offices supply abortions through the administration of drugs (pills) or other chemical means. They do not conduct surgical abortions.

According to their research, by the end of last year, 32 surgical abortion facilities had either closed or stopped providing abortions. An additional eight medical abortion facilities were closed.

Even factoring the opening of new clinics in the U.S., the total number of abortion facilities in the country  —697 — was seven fewer than by the end of 2017.

The 697 clinics (467 of them being facilities that perform surgical abortions) also represented a sharp decrease from 2009, when Operation Rescue reported 844 medical and surgical abortion clinics nationwide.

In 1991, there were 2,176 surgical abortion clinics nationwide. "This represents a massive 79 percent decrease in the number of surgical abortion facilities over the past 27 years," the pro-life group added. 

“Although the number of medical abortion facilities has increased, they merely occupy a larger piece of an ever-shrinking pie,” noted Operation Rescue.

“Unable or unwilling to meet new surgical facility safety regulations, some have resorted to dropping surgical abortions as perhaps their only means of staying open — especially in states that do not regulate medical abortion clinics or that allow nonphysicians to dispense the drugs.”

Operation Rescue also found that there were 467 surgical abortion facilities in the U.S., which is far below the 2,176 surgical abortion facilities that existed in 1991.

Factors listed by Operation Rescue as contributing to the decline included: “Successful pro-life activism;” “new state laws;” “failure to comply with existing laws and safety regulations;” “loss of tax funding in several states;” “loss of abortion provider,” and “unwillingness of landlords to continue leases with abortion businesses.”

Last November, the abortion rights group Abortion Care Network published a report which also found that more abortion clinics are closing.

“Since 2013, 148 independent abortion clinics have closed. Forty of those clinics closed in 2013; 23 closed in 2014; 33 closed in 2015; 22 closed in 2016; 17 closed in 2017. As of November, 11 independent clinics have closed in 2018,” according to the report.

“Over the last decade, abortion clinics have been closing at an alarming rate. Of those closures, the vast majority have been independent abortion care providers.”

ACN also noted that the closures were especially prominent among clinics that performed late-term abortions.

“Over the last three years, 50 independent clinics have closed. Of those clinics, only seven provided care exclusively before 13 weeks gestation; 82 percent provided care after the first trimester,” continued the report.

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