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Closed Texas clinics to reopen ‘BASE ON ABORTION’

Abortion
providers in Texas reacted with surprise and elation on Monday to the
U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the state’s restrictive
abortion law and said they aimed to reopen some clinics shut down since
the measure was passed in 2013.

Since
the law was passed by a Republican-led legislature and signed by a
Republican governor, the number of abortion clinics in Texas, the
second-most-populous U.S. state with about 27 million people, has fallen
from 41 to 19.

“I
am honestly surprised by the Supreme Court decision,” Rachel
Bergstrom-Carlson, health center manager at Planned Parenthood of
Austin, said at the clinic that performs about 250 abortions per month
in the Texas state capital.

But
Bergstrom-Carlson said she does not think the ruling “all of the sudden
creates open access” to abortion for Texas women or that it means other
legislation intended to restrict women’s access to safe and legal
abortions will be scrapped.

Abortion
providers said the law imposed medically unnecessary regulations that
were intended to shut clinics. Texas state officials said the law was
aimed at protecting women’s health.

Dr.
Bhavik Kumar, who performs abortions at Whole Woman’s Health clinics in
Texas, said abortion providers will seek to reopen some of the
shuttered clinics but do not expect to be able to return to the number
in operation prior to the law.

Negotiating new leases and hiring staff will mean a slow return to operations for those that do re-open, Kumar said.

The
Supreme Court ruled that both key provisions of the law – requiring
abortion doctors to have difficult-to-obtain “admitting privileges” at a
local hospital and requiring clinics to have costly hospital-grade
facilities – violated a woman’s right to an abortion established in a
1973 landmark ruling.

“I
am beyond elated,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole
Woman’s Health, which operates four abortion clinics in Texas and
spearheaded the challenge to the law.

“After
years of fighting heartless, anti-abortion Texas politicians who would
seemingly stop at nothing to push abortion out of reach, I want everyone
to understand: you don’t mess with Texas, you don’t mess with Whole
Woman’s Health,” she added.

If
the Supreme Court had left the law in place, only eight clinics would
have remained open, including the Planned Parenthood facility in Austin,
a U.S. lower court judge said.

The
state’s Republican leaders, including the governor and attorney
general, criticized the ruling that they said would endanger public
health.

“Now
abortion clinics are free to ignore these basic safety standards and
continue practicing under substandard conditions,” Republican Lieutenant
Governor Dan Patrick said. “By its ruling, the court held that the
ability of abortion clinics to remain open – even under substandard
conditions – outweighs the state’s ability to put women’s health and
safety first.”

The legislature meets again next year, and top lawmakers indicated they may look at new abortion restrictions.

The
“admitting privileges” provision, requiring doctors who perform
abortions to have formal affiliation with a hospital within 30 miles (48
kms) of their clinic, had gone into effect. The facilities standards
had been put on hold by courts.

                                           

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