Friday, March 7, 2014

Texas will soon be down to six abortion providers, thanks to S.B.2 and the Abbott case

The New York Times reports today from McAllen, Texas, population 134,719, regarding the latest abortion clinic closures caused by Texas S.B. 2, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.  Here's the lede:
Shortly before a candlelight vigil on the sidewalk outside, employees of the last abortion clinic in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas shut the doors early Thursday evening, making legal abortion unavailable in the poorest part of the state in the wake of tough new restrictions passed last year by the Texas Legislature. 
The closings on Thursday of two clinics operated by Whole Woman’s Health — the one here in McAllen and another in the East Texas city of Beaumont — are part of a wave of clinic closings brought on by the new law. 
There were 44 facilities that performed abortions in Texas in 2011, abortion providers said. After the two closings on Thursday, there are now 24, they said. When the law is fully implemented in September, that number is expected to drop to six.
McAllen is not rural; it is the largest city in Hidalgo County, which is metropolitan.  But the greatest impact of the law closing the McAllen and Beaumont clinics will be on rural women in south Texas, who previously relied on the McAllen, Beaumont, and Harlingen clinics.  They will now have to travel farther than ever to secure an abortion.  Here is an excerpt from Manny Fernandez's story that gestures to the law's impact on rural women:  
In McAllen, the shuttering of the city’s only abortion clinic has increased the costs, the time and the travel distance for women seeking abortions. Women have been making a roughly four-hour, 240-mile trip to San Antonio or a five-hour, 310-mile trip to Austin to get abortions. There had been only two clinics that performed abortions in the Rio Grande Valley, but by the end of the day Thursday there were none. The other one in nearby Harlingen closed days ago. 
Activity at the McAllen clinic had slowed recently. It stopped performing abortions last year after parts of the law went into effect.
The story closes with the poignant anecdote of a young woman who said she expected most women in the Rio Grande Valley would travel to Mexico for an abortion pill--a drug called misoprostol (brand-name Cytotec)--rather than to San Antonio.  
Honestly, I think they’ll go south of the border, if they have to.  It’s cheaper and it’s closer. To go to San Antonio is so much more of a hassle and costs a lot more.
The woman had recently traveled to San Antonio for an abortion, leaving at 3 am and arriving at the clinic at 8 am.  She had to wait the entire day to be seen even though she had an appointment.  Fernandez explains the delay:
The San Antonio clinic, it turned out, was packed with patients from the Rio Grande Valley area.  

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