Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws

Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) are laws that aim to restrict abortion access by restricting and regulating abortion care and abortion providers specifically. These laws include requirements for hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers, building requirements (such as a requirement that two hospital gurneys can fit side by side in the hallways), location requirements (such as not being located within a certain distance of schools), and other restrictions that do not improve safety of abortion care. Although these laws are advanced under the guise of protecting women’s health, it has become evident that these laws are tools to close down abortion clinics and restrict access to care. The true intent—and effect—of these laws is to close abortion clinics. In many states where these laws have gone into effect, clinics have been forced to close and people in need of abortion must travel greater distances and jump through more hoops to attain medical care. In Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Supreme Court found that a TRAP law in Texas requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a hospital and meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center to be unconstitutional. In the majority decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, “Each [restriction] places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.” However despite this decision, these laws have continued to persist in some states and create immense barriers to providing and accessing care.

In fact, the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear another case about a nearly identical TRAP law in Louisiana, June Medical Services v. Gee. Some legal scholars believe that the most likely reason that the Supreme Court would agree to hear such a similar case, especially so soon after Whole Women’s Health, is because of the two new conservative Justices on the Court, and the court’s desire to break the only recently-established precedent.

What are TRAP Laws?

A toolkit to better understand the TRAP laws and their impact:

Updated information which states have active TRAP laws:

Seeing these restrictions play out in Texas:

The Impact of TRAP Laws in Mississippi: 

Another perspective on the impact of TRAP laws and the legal battle over them:

A Review of the Literature: 

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