Whole Woman's Health Closes Two Abortion Clinics

HB 2 fallout continues

Whole Woman's Health Closes Two Abortion Clinics
Illustration by Jason Stout

Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, this morning announced that today she closed two women's clinics open since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion more than 40 years ago, thanks to the draconian provisions of House Bill 2, passed last summer. "For women and families of Texas, justice has not been served," she said during a press call.

Whole Woman's Health clinics in Beaumont and McAllen, which have provided comprehensive reproductive services – including ultrasounds, STD testing and treatment, and contraceptive care – will close because doctors there have not been able to comply with the hospital admitting-privileges portion of HB 2, passed in a special-called session last year. The closing in McAllen means no provider remains in the Rio Grande Valley; the closest clinic still open is in Corpus Christi, more than 100 miles away.

In McAllen, no hospital has granted admitting-privileges to the clinic's board-certified obstetricians and the clinic has been unable to perform any abortions since November 2013. In Beaumont only one doctor secured privileges – hospitals there have denied even providing an application for the clinic's other doctors, Hagstrom Miller said.

The closing of the two clinics brings to 19 the number of abortion providers who have shuttered operations since HB 2 passed last summer. There are currently 24 providers left open, she said, but that number is likely to shrink to just six after September, when a provision requiring providers to transform into ambulatory surgical centers takes effect.

According to Daniel Grossman, a doctor who, with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, is conducting research into the impact of Texas' laws restricting women's health care, in 2011, the last year for which there are complete numbers, 2,634 women in McAllen and 914 women in Beaumont sought abortion care at the clinics that have now closed.

Although a federal district judge last fall ruled that the admitting privileges portion of the law is unconstitutional, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals quickly intervened to block the ruling. The case is still pending with that court.

Hagstrom Miller chastised Texas obstetricians who have failed to stand up for Texas women – including their own patients – and to help the clinic doctors to obtain privileges. "We've...taken care of their patients quietly and compassionately" for years and "we need their help...we need them to advocate for us the way we've always advocated" for their patients, she said.

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abortion, Whole Woman's Health, HB 2, Legislature, Amy Hagstrom Miller, reproductive health, reproductive rights, Daniel Grossman, Texas Policy Evaluation Project, courts, family planning

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