4 Texas abortion clinics to close due to new law

September 5, 2013 7:07:06 PM PDT
Four abortion clinics are preparing to shutter in the coming months as a result of stricter requirements imposed by a new state law regulating abortion.

One of the main obstacles the clinics face is a requirement that doctors who perform the procedure obtain admitting privileges at hospitals, The Dallas Morning News reported (http://dallasne.ws/1fCfsaG ). The law, which was passed last month, will go into effect at the end of next month.

The clinics that will close are in Bryan, Harlingen, San Angelo and Midland. Two others closed earlier this year. Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, said she's heard of three additional clinics that are planning to close. The state currently has 37 licensed abortion clinics. Miller says she does not plan to close any of her facilities.

If all nine clinics end up closing, that would be about a quarter of all the facilities in Texas. Abortion rights supporters worry that women in rural areas will have to travel to distant facilities or lose access to the procedures.

The law's backers, including many conservatives who want to sharply curtail abortion or outlaw it altogether, contend that it will better protect women's health by more tightly regulating the clinics. Opponents, though, say the law is simply meant to make it harder for women to get abortions.

Kyleen Wright, president of the Texans for Life Coalition, which opposes abortion rights, said she's not surprised that clinics are closing.

"We believe very much that the standards are reasonable, that they're intended to provide a necessary step to protect women, and we're not sorry," she said.

Aside from requiring clinics' doctors to get admitting rights at hospitals within 30 miles of the facility, the law also prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to protect the life of the women or for cases of severe fetal abnormalities.

The law also raised from three to four the number of visits to a doctor that women who want to use abortion-inducing pills have to make before being administered with the abortive. It also stipulates that doctors must follow strict federal guidelines for dispensing the pills.

Abortion clinics will also have to meet surgical facility standards, which many clinics have said they can't afford to do. Only five of the state's clinics meet all the requirements of this law. Clinics will have a year to meet the requirements after the law takes effect in October.

Similar measures in other states have been blocked by federal judges, and opponents of Texas' law said they'll pursue a similar course.

Five abortion clinics have closed in the past three years in Texas.

Three of the four clinics that said they are closing are Planned Parenthood facilities. All three have an abortion clinic and a family planning clinic.

Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for the Bryan clinic, said the shutdown of the only abortion facility in Brazos County is "tragic."

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