On Thursday morning, Gov. Rick Perry (R) officially approved a controversial anti-abortion bill morning that will likely force 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics to close their doors. Perry has disputed that particular statistic about the impending clinic closures, saying he doesn’t believe the new law will actually have that wide of an effect. But if there’s one thing Perry knows how to do, it’s shut down abortion clinics — and this is hardly the first policy he’s enacted that will accomplish that goal.
Over the past several years, Texas’ GOP-controlled legislature has been on a crusade against abortion, and lawmakers have mainly picked their battles with health clinics. In 2011, Texas officials slashed family planning funding. Then, Republicans successfully defunded Planned Parenthood after a year of trying. With fewer family planning dollars flowing — and with no state money going toward the preventative services that Planned Parenthood used to offer to Medicaid patients — clinics are already struggling to survive in the Lone Star State.
“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities,” Melaney A. Linton, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, pointed out.
Texas is currently funding 176 fewer health clinics than it did in 2011. The number of organizations that help low-income women in Texas plan for pregnancy has shrunk by almost half. Fifty three clinics have been forced to shut down because they can’t make ends meet.
That’s why — on the same day Perry signed a law to place even more of a strain on abortion clinics — Planned Parenthood announced that it will be forced to close three of its clinics. The women’s health organization confirmed to the Huffington Post that it can no longer afford to operate its clinics in Bryan, Lufkin, and Huntsville after the rounds of budget cuts. Just one of those clinics, the Bryan location, actually provides abortion services.
And Linton worries about the effects of the brand-new legislation, which will have even more far-reaching consequences into Texas’ network of women’s health providers. Many of the so-called “abortion clinics” that will likely be forced to close because they can’t meet the new standards actually provide many other preventative health services, like birth control and STD tests. “It is a travesty that Texas politicians are stripping healthcare from women across the state, harming lives and unraveling the health care safety net that has taken decades to build,” Linton said in a statement.
Clinics across Texas, mainly those that service low-income and rural areas, are already bracing for massive shutdowns. And even if the new abortion regulations in and of themselves don’t force clinics to close, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe.