Abortion Clinics: Rebuilding Process Will Be Long And Arduous
Abortion providers say they plan to rebuild and reopen clinics now that the Supreme Court has overturned state abortion restrictions in House Bill 2. But rebuilding might take a long time.
Before state lawmakers passed the restrictions in House Bill 2 there were about 40 clinics in Texas that performed abortions. In the past 3 years, over half have closed. The legislation required doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. Clinic standards were increased to a level many providers couldn’t afford to meet.
Supreme Court Justices have said those restrictions placed an undue burden on women and were medically unnecessary. But as the legal battle was waged the clinics shut down.
Amy Hagstrom Miller is executive director with Whole Woman’s Health, the abortion provider that sued the state. She says reopening the clinics will be a challenge.
“Because it’s been over 3 years now most of the clinics that closed either had to sell the building or we had to let go of our leases, so there would be process of us finding space, relicensing the facilities, trying to find physicians and staff, all who have gotten other jobs,” she says.
One of the Whole Women’s clinics that closed is in North Austin. Following the court decision Heather Busbee, with NARAL ProChoice Texas, rushed to the shuttered site with a banner announcing it will re-open.
“They’ve been able to maintain the facility and this is a clinic that could reopen, hopefully in the near future, but in order for clinics to reopen they have to get a license. I would call on today out Health and Human Services Department to do the right thing and re-license these clinics,” Busbee says.
But for abortion opponents the fight isn’t over. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is among state officials who want to push for new restrictions not specifically addressed in the Supreme Court ruling.
“Now in the Texas Senate we will revisit this issue, we will continue to focus on women’s safety and health even when having an abortion.” Patrick says.
Joe Pojman, of the Texas Alliance For Life, supported the restrictions the Justices rejected.
“Our attorneys and our physicians are going to be scrutinizing this decision that more than 100-pages long to see what’s possible and if there are any things we are going to be recommending that to the legislature when they convene in January,” Pojman says.
Pojman says anti- abortion legislation in the next session may focus on further limiting when a woman can have an abortion and under what circumstance. Texas currently bans abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy.