You probably know somebody who's had an abortion.

According to 2008 data, 1 in 3 women will have one, meaning that odds are that even if you don't think you know anybody who's had an abortion, you probably do. And for the sake of those 1 in 3 women, it's worth paying attention to what John Oliver had to say on last night's episode of "Last Week Tonight" about the recent attacks on abortion rights.


GIFs from "Last Week Tonight"/YouTube.

These attacks are called TRAP laws, and they're forcing abortion clinics around the country to close at a rapid rate.

Since 2010, individual states have enacted more than 280 new restrictions on abortion. That startling number is what's led to the closing of somewhere around 70 abortion clinics across the country, and in many cases, leaving just one or two clinics open statewide.

These laws, often referred to as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), are usually presented as though they're being passed for the sake of women's health. They're not.

Let's make something really clear: Abortion is a very safe procedure. In fact, there's more risk in carrying a pregnancy to term than in having an abortion.

And even though this (often nonsurgical) procedure is considered safe by medical standards, TRAP laws target clinics with strict regulations that go beyond what's medically necessary to carry out an abortion procedure.


There are two types of regulations: restrictions that directly affect the clinic and restrictions that directly affect the person seeking the procedure.

In the end, they all affect the person seeking the abortion, but it's a two-pronged attack. In some states, laws specify things like the size of procedure rooms, the width of corridors, or the distance a clinic must be to a hospital.

Some states require that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals, which are both unnecessary and hard to come by.

The other type of regulations, the ones that affect patients directly, include things like mandatory waiting periods between consultation and the abortion procedure, being forced to undergo unnecessary procedures like ultrasounds, being forced to watch that ultrasound, and being read a script by the doctor with medically dubious information.

These are all meant to deter and shame the person seeking the abortion from getting one.

But luckily, there's something you can do about this.

You can vote.

With one Supreme Court vacancy (and more likely coming in the next few years), whoever winds up sitting in the Oval Office come January 2017 will have a huge impact on whether TRAP laws become a way to effectively outlaw abortion or if they'll be thrown out for placing an undue burden on the person seeking an abortion (which they do).

One case is set to be heard next month — Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. With more challenges to Roe v. Wade certainly to come in the following years, it's important to know where the presidential candidates stand on abortion, even if not for yourself, but for the 1 in 3 women who will need those services.

Watch John Oliver's fantastic segment from last night's show below:

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