4 ways Texas treats murderous biker gangs better than women

From waiting periods to convenient access, Texas law makes it easy to buy a gun. Basic healthcare? Not so much

Published May 20, 2015 5:46PM (EDT)

A McLennan County deputy stands guard near a group of bikers in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas.  (AP/Rod Aydelotte)
A McLennan County deputy stands guard near a group of bikers in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant, May 17, 2015, in Waco, Texas. (AP/Rod Aydelotte)

Texas is a pretty great place to live if you aspire to be a gun-wielding member of a violent motorcycle gang. Not so much if you’re seeking access to basic reproductive health care or want to provide it to others.

Here’s why.


Texas has no waiting period to buy a gun. The process is kind of like a vending machine, only with deadly weapons. If you’re buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer, you have to submit to a background check, which usually only takes a few minutes.

If you’re buying from a private seller, there is no background check requirement. Same loophole applies at gun shows. In general, state law has it that you can wake up one morning, decide you would like to own a gun and have one by dinner time.

If you’re seeking an abortion, however, the state of Texas thinks it’s pretty important that you wait. There is a 24-hour waiting period in place that begins after the first in-office consultation. The official waiting period is 24 hours, but the actual waiting period can be longer if there isn’t an appointment immediately available or if you’re traveling long distances to reach a clinic.

A study published in 2013 by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that, of the 300 women surveyed, a majority reported that the forced delay was a logistical and financial burden. On average, the waiting period added an additional $146 to the cost of the procedure, since arranging for two office visits required additional time off work, childcare, transportation and, in some cases, overnight accommodations.


Texas has about 8,500 gun dealers -- more than any other state in the country.

Texas currently has 14 clinics offering abortion services, down from 46 in 2011.

Texas law also bans telemedicine abortion, which helps people who live in parts of the state where there are no physicians who perform abortions. Through telemedicine, a woman can go to her local family planning clinic and receive a remote consultation with a doctor and, after getting a checkup with a nurse or medical assistance, have medication dispensed to terminate her pregnancy.

Unless you live in a county with a provider, or have the funds and flexibility to travel a great distance to get the procedure, you’re out of luck. But location isn’t a problem for people looking to buy guns in Texas, lawmakers have seen to it that owning a weapon is as easy as possible.


According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Texas does not require firearms dealers to obtain a license or “otherwise significantly regulate firearms dealers.”

But abortion providers in Texas are up against a maze of red tape. Provisions of HB 2, the state’s sweeping abortion law, are still being challenged in court, including a requirement that all facilities meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. The cost of construction alone is prohibitive, but so are additional and unnecessary costs related to equipment and staff. A requirement that physicians who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges with local hospitals has been in effect since 2013.


Texas lawmakers want to expand the rights of gun owners to carry in public, and the Waco shootout hasn't deterred them.

Texas lawmakers want to keep restricting abortion access in the state, and the devastating consequences of years of family planning cuts and shuttered clinics haven't deterred them.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Abortion Rights Reproductive Justice Reproductive Rights Texas Waco