Texas abortion clinics: How far is too far to drive?

Texas abortion clinics: How far is too far to drive?

Organisation: Al Jazeera America (United States)

Publication Date: 04/09/2015



Over the past five years, the number of states with restrictions on abortion clinics has been rising with the objective to close as many clinics as possible, effectively making abortion impossible. Nowhere has this strategy been more noticeable than in Texas. We collected historical data on clinic closures and, through an interactive presentation, allowed users to see how these laws translate to the lived experience of women in that state — how far will you have to travel to get access to abortion services? As with most digital projects, the data is messy. A law that would force more clinics to close is currently being debated. To communicate these two eventualities, the user can toggle between those two eventualities. Sometimes the closest clinic is in a neighboring state, which might have its own laws that affect travel time. Louisiana, for instance, requires in person counseling 24-hour prior to any service, necessitating two separate trips or an overnight stay. At the top of the story, we present an interactive visualization that measures the distance between the user's mouse and the nearest clinic. To provide additional context, we also show the nearest town and a population map of women of reproductive age. In addition to graphics, we visualize, or represent, the data as prose as well to give an easily readable output such as "If you are near McAllen, Texas, 6 of 7 of your closest clinics will close and your nearest clinic is 170 miles away, 110 miles farther than 20 months ago." Interspersed throughout the story are specific instances — data vignettes — highlighting how the law affects women in specific cities and regions. We do the distance calculations and plot the female population layers all on the client — there is no geospatial server on the backend. This type of setup is possible due to leveraging recently matured client-side libraries and a huge benefit to us since it dramatically increases our ability to archive interactive graphics so they don't disappear.

Technologies used for this project:

D3 for drawing the visualization Stylus with nib for CSS Geolib for client-side geospatial calculations QGIS for making a point-density layer of female population Canvas for drawing those points client-side Census data for female population counts Here is a demonstration of the two voronoi layers used to calculate the nearest town and the nearest clinic https://www.dropbox.com/s/0klth55qhxnhj7d/texas-abortion-voronois.gif?dl=0
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