Kansas has long been a frontline in the abortion wars, so it isn’t much of a surprise that anti-abortion crusaders there have pioneered one of the newest tactics for limiting access to legal abortion procedures: developing onerous regulations that specifically target clinics. And this strategy—which could lead to shutting down all of the state’s abortion clinics by the end of this month—is being embraced by abortion foes in other states as a way to end abortion in practice if not in law.
This is how it works: anti-abortion legislators pass what are often called “TRAP” laws, or “targeted regulation of abortion providers.” That is, regulations that only apply to abortion clinics, setting compulsory standards that are often difficult to meet, like mandated sizes for waiting and recovery rooms, reconfiguring of exits and entrances to facilities, and additional bathrooms. In Kansas, abortion providers last week were handed a long list of new regulations and told they must comply by July 1. Virginia and Utah have signed similar measures into law this year, joining states like South Carolina and Indiana that have previously targeted providers with stricter regulations, and a number of other states have been considering bills like these.