As of 2016, 27 states impose a mandatory waiting period of 24 hours or more following an initial counseling session by an abortion provider, or review of state-authored "informed consent" reading materials. According to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, “This legislation will help women get the information they need before making a decision they can’t take back,” despite studies that show waiting periods do not prevent women from obtaining an abortion, create excessive hardship, and increase procedure expenses by 10%. Additionally, with the closure of 162 clinics since 2011, many women are forced to travel substantial distances to their nearest provider.
This distance often lengthens if women must obtain an abortion before an overwhelmed clinic has an appointment available, as some have reported wait times increasing to as much as 20 days. For many, this means arranging for childcare, absences from work, travel and accommodations over several days. An Undue Burden provides a window into the lived, measurable impact of state mandated waiting periods, focusing on those directly affected by the legislation.