Now that the state of Texas has approved the bill to ban-late term abortions, pro-abortion stalwarts are still complaining that as many as 35 abortions clinics may be forced to close.
The 20-week abortion ban was the major focus of the bill, but the legislation also places stricter health and safety regulations on abortion clinics — which has formced many abortion clinics in other states that can’t guarantee they can protect the health of women to close.
The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks and hold abortion clinics accountable by making them meet basic health and safety standards that have closed facilities in other states that are unable to comply. The bill also requires all abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety regulations as an ambulatory surgical center, requires a doctor providing abortions to secure admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and lastly, requires a doctor to personally administer the abortion-inducing drugs to the patient.
From a story on the potential closings:
Now, more than 40 years later, new abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature could force Novick to close the Houston abortion clinic he opened in 1980 because, he says, he does not have $1 million to $1.5 million to convert his run-of-the-mill medical office into a fully loaded surgical center with wide corridors and sophisticated air-flow systems.
“I have saved some women’s lives. They are so grateful we’re here for them and nonjudgmental,” Novick said. “I really feel a kinship for this.”
The legislation, passed late Friday following weeks of mass protests and a high-profile filibuster, allows abortions only in surgical centers, requires doctors who perform them to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, dictates when abortion pills are taken and bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life is in imminent danger.
Abortion-rights advocates argue the costs associated with converting clinics into surgical centers are so high they will force more than 35 clinics to close, possibly leaving only a handful of facilities across the vast state. In rural areas such as the farthest reaches of West Texas or the Rio Grande Valley, that could put the closest facility 300 or more miles away.
The law could also create a backlog so great in the remaining clinics that women seeking abortions will miss the 20-week deadline, said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, a company that runs five clinics in Texas.
Abortion opponents insist, however, that the new rules are designed to guarantee the best health care.
“All we’re asking for is better surgical care for women seeking these procedures,” said Christine Melchor, executive director of the Houston Coalition for Life.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst posted on Twitter a link to a map of facilities that would be affected and implied that any shutdowns would be an added benefit. The timeline for closures isn’t immediately clear; opponents have vowed to sue to block the regulations from going into effect.
Abortion activists are so concerned about abortion businesses closing that they are looking at a lawsuit against the pro-life law, once Governor Rick Perry signs it into law.
Abortion rights supporters say that the new law attempts to overturn Roe vs. Wade in Texas, and that’s why they plan to take their fight to the courts.
“What this does is completely reshape the abortion landscape in the state,” says Elizabeth Nash, who follows state issues at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group. “With this legislation, Texas will become one of the most restrictive states in the country. And Texas really matters.”
“This law can absolutely be stopped. It is a cocktail of restrictions that have been blocked by other courts around the country,” Rikelman says. “It’s clearly unconstitutional and I do believe that courts will find it to be unconstitutional if it’s challenged.”
But none of those cases was in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Texas, points out Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance of Life, which has backed the anti-abortion bill from the beginning.
“Their optimism may be poorly founded in the 5th Circuit,” Pojman says. “In Texas, we have had a very good track record of our abortion regulations and limits being reviewed and upheld by the 5th Circuit. I point out to you most recently our statute passed two years ago.”