Health Care In The States

Half Of Texas Abortion Clinics Close Due To State Law

By Carrie Feibel, KUHF

July 18th, 2014, 7:14 AM

This story is part of a partnership that includes Houston Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. It can be republished for free. (details)

In just over the past year, the number of abortion clinics in Texas fell from 41 to 20, and watchdogs say that as few as six may be left by September.

Many of those closed because of the requirement that doctors at those clinics obtain hospital admitting privileges within a certain radius of the clinic, and many doctors couldn’t comply. That requirement began November 1. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the law that started it all.

Bitter fighting over the law last summer propelled state senator Wendy Davis into the national spotlight, and she is now running for Texas governor on the Democratic ticket.

“We’re seeing delays,” said Heather Busby, executive director of  NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “We’re seeing people being pushed further into pregnancy, having to leave the state, having to drive and sleep in their cars in parking lots because of these barriers to access.”

The last restriction under the law goes into effect Sept. 1. All abortion clinics at that point must have upgraded their facilities to ambulatory surgery centers. Busby says many can’t afford it and more will close.

“This would basically force all the clinics to become mini-hospitals,” Busby said. “They have to have hallway widths a certain length, and a janitor’s closet, male and female locker rooms, which is completely unnecessary – and a bunch of other regulations that are really not appropriate or do anything to increase the safety of one of the safest procedures in the country.”

Pro-life groups supported the law, saying it would protect women by making abortion safer. At the time of the passage of the law, The Texas Tribune quoted Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell saying: “There’s nothing in this legislation that will close a clinic. … That’s up to the clinic. If they want to put profit over a person, that’s up to them.”

Busby said abortion is already one of the safest office-based medical procedures, with a complication rate of less than .05 percent.

Busby predicted that after September only six or eight places will be left in Texas to get an abortion, unless a lawsuit stops the new requirement from going into effect. Whole Woman’s Health is part of that lawsuit. The group previously had six reproductive health clinics in Texas, but had to close two clinics over the past year, Busby said. It may have to close an additional three clinics that don’t meet the new surgical center specifications, in Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. It would be left with just one other clinic in San Antonio that meets the new requirements.

Busby noted there are now no abortion clinics in all of East Texas or in the Rio Grande Valley. She said the one clinic left in El Paso could close soon.

In Houston, the newly-built headquarters of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast does fulfill the ambulatory surgical center requirements, so it will remain open. But the status of smaller clinics remains unclear.

A call and email to Texas Right to Life for comment was not returned.

9 Responses to “Half Of Texas Abortion Clinics Close Due To State Law”

  1. margie says:

    To be sure, I’m personally against abortion. However, I am offended by the misnomer “Abortion Clinic”. I prefer the term “Women’s Health Clinic”.

    To name just a few, other services provided by such clinics include…

    - anemia testing
    - cholesterol screening
    - diabetes screening
    - physical exams
    - flu vaccines
    - help with quitting smoking
    - high blood pressure screening
    - tetanus vaccines
    - thyroid screening

    I could go on and on to list many more services provided by these clinics. Abortion counseling is among these services and, to be very clear, although it is unfortunate that some women opt to have an abortion, many more women are counseled and encouraged to have the baby full term as a result of the counseling they receive at these clinics.

    Regarding the legality of abortion, the question is simple. Should abortion be legal and easily available in all 50 states without restriction…Yes or No? Americans need to deal with this important question on a “national” level. The states should not have a say. The Supreme Court should not have a say. Americans must have the final say at the ballot box. Americans need to see this question as a nationwide referendum. No more BS! Americans need to vote on this question.

    Regarding women’s clinics all across America, clearly, women need health services. To shut down access to the vast array of health services offered by women’s clinics just because one of the services is morally offensive to some people is wrong. These clinics need to remain open, if just so women have access to the other non-abortion related services. Women are important. Women’s health is important. Our male dominated political system needs to realize the importance of women in society.

  2. Lola says:

    Here’s a fun idea: how about only women politicians are allowed to weigh in on issues that will affect women’s health? Because unless men suddenly become able to experience pregnancy and childbirth (preeeetty unlikely), I’m fairly certain that the male opinion on limiting (or expanding) access to abortion clinics for women is totally moot.

  3. Wayne Beamer says:

    I’m so ashamed of Texas legislators caring more about gun sellers and open carry gun rights than working to protect the health of Texas women. That said, Texas women and Texans of color know for whom whom to vote in November to ensure this tyranny doesn’t continue.

  4. tina says:

    “Here’s a fun idea: how about only women politicians are allowed to weigh in on issues that will affect women’s health? Because unless men suddenly become able to experience pregnancy and childbirth (preeeetty unlikely), I’m fairly certain that the male opinion on limiting (or expanding) access to abortion clinics for women is totally moot.”

    Huh? In Texas? With Rick Perry as Governor? With Texas voters constantly electing male chauvinists to the Texas legislature? Please! Don’t hold your breath! Texas is in the dark ages when it comes to women’s issues and women healthcare. The vast majority of Texas men believe women’s healthcare involves buying their wife or daughter a pair of shoes once in a while. And that’s only because he’s too lazy to walk to the corner store to buy himself a six-pack. Along with women living in states like Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama, the women of Texas have only one choice if they want to get fair and equal treatment regarding their healthcare…move north!

  5. Rusty S. says:

    Margie women can get each of those services you mentioned at their primary care doctor. No need to go to a “Women’s Health Clinic”. Heck, your local Walgreens can do all of those things except anemia testing, physical exams, and thyroid screening.

    Lola, Wayne, Tina when Wendy “Leave my husband as soon as he finishes paying for my law school” Davis gets elected and the Texas economy tanks like every other democrat lead state then we will know who to blame. It’s not a right to be able to run up to the corner store to get an abortion. I’m glad women have to go out of their way to get this terrible procedure done. Gives them time to think about the life they are taking. A doctor having admitting privileges and the center being properly equipped to perform these procedures protect women. You should be praising the legislators for forcing these abortion clinics to put women’s wellbeing over profits.

  6. Lou says:

    Women can get those services at their primary care doctor? Haven’t you heard? With over 25 percent of Texans uninsured, and with Texas women having a 1 in 6 chance of having health coverage, fat chance they are going to see a primary care doctor any time soon! Sadly, Texas women are destined to get their healthcare at low cost clinics and that’s how Texas men want it! Don’t be such a stooge! As far as Texas economy tanking, uh….what economy? As a right-to-work state, Texas offers litter more than minimum wage jobs. Rick Perry says that Texas has jobs? Yeah, right, it earning $7.25 an hour equates to a job. If you want a real job with real wages and real benefits, don’t go to Texas.

  7. Patsy says:

    In Texas, over 25 percent of the residents are without health insurance. If you think that sounds bad, you need to consider that everyone 65 and over are already covered by Medicare. So, the real percentage of uninsured Texans is more like 50 percent if you don’t count seniors on Medicare. The sad part is, Texans are proud that a huge number of their residents are without healthcare coverage. Just ask Rick Perry. Just ask Ted Cruz. These morons actually believe that you aren’t a real Texan unless you are uninsured. Talk about Neanderthals!

  8. Quinn says:

    Texas is a joke! It’s that simple!

  9. tina says:

    In spite of his efforts to close Women’s Health Clinics all across Texas, Governor Rick Perry seems to have much bigger fish to fry, huh? Since he’s about to throw his size 10 Stetson cowboy hat into the ring, I guess it’s time we all watched Rick Perry showcasing some of his Presidential qualities, huh?

    Presidential qualities like how he treats refugee children showing up at the Texas boarder and asking for protection and asylum? So, what’s Governor Perry doing? Did I read that he’s sending the Texas National Guard to the boarder? What’s that mean? Will they have guns? Will they use deadly force? Huh? So, as these persecuted children come wading out of the river, what exactly will the Texas National Guard do? Huh?

    Perry calls himself a Christian? Is this how Christianity works in Texas?

    Hey Rick Perry, as a Christian, have you ever read your Bible?

    Matthew 19:14?