CREDIT: Mike Stone/Reuters
Up to seven abortion clinics in Texas are preparing to close, citing a restrictive new anti-choice law that GOP lawmakers enacted this summer. Under the new law, clinic doctors must obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals — an unnecessary requirement that has been blocked from taking effect in other states.
In order to continue practicing in Texas, doctors must obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals by the end of next month. But clinic administrators say it’s been too difficult to get them, and providers will ultimately be forced to cease their services. Almost all of the clinics that say they’ll need to shut down are located in rural areas and smaller cities.
Several different federal judges have determined that admitting privilege requirements are “nearly impossible” for abortion providers to comply with. Over the summer, when Texas legislators were considering the anti-choice measure, the Texas Hospital Association testified against it. Health officials in the state pointed out that the abortion clinics in Texas are already very safe, and enforcing the new law would be “time-consuming and expensive” for hospitals.
Nevertheless, lawmakers pushed ahead anyway. And when reproductive rights advocates warned that 90 percent of the clinics in the state would be forced to shut down under the harsh new law, Republicans disputed that notion. Gov. Rick Perry (R) said he didn’t believe the measure would actually have that effect. Sen. Glenn Hegar (R) said he didn’t want to address the fact that opponents warned there will only be four or five clinics left in all of Texas. “I firmly believe a large number of these clinics will come up to the standards,” he said during the debate over the legislation.
But, as the Dallas News reports, this round of clinic closures “is the clearest evidence yet of the effects of the bill” that was signed into law in July.
It’s not the first time that Texas officials have pursued policies that have forced clinics to close. Over the past several years, state lawmakers have slashed family planning funding and cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood. Those rounds of budget cuts have forced five abortion clinics to close over the past five years, and many other clinics that offer preventative care and family planning services are being driven out of business too.
The rash of clinic closures in the Lone Star State is a “dramatic change,” according to the Guttmacher Institute’s Elizabeth Nash.
“This decrease, especially if it continues, makes accessing abortion more difficult because women have fewer options for abortion services and remaining facilities have increased caseloads,” Nash explained to the Dallas News.
Texas isn’t alone. Across the country, abortion clinics have been closing at a record pace thanks to a rash of new state-level laws specifically intended to target them. Over the past three years, more than 50 clinics have shut down as a result of budget cuts and harsh regulations. The anti-choice community celebrates every closure, often holding press conferences at the sites of clinics that have been shuttered. A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life recently noted that “we’re not shy about our goal of ending abortion,” while the president of the Texans for Life Coalition said “we’re not sorry” for supporting legislation that’s forcing clinics out of business.