Abortion bill threatens future of Planned Parenthood in Texas
The iconic scene of the Planned Parenthood’s gleaming glass building is one many commuters see every time they arrive to the University of Houston.
Walking in, visitors are observed by a security guard as they are screened by a metal detector before even getting to the front desk. From there, anyone can pick up a card with their services on it.
These services include birth control, vasectomies, the HPV vaccine for men and women, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, in-clinic abortions and the abortion pill, as well as a plethora of other health services.
But these services will no longer be available if the building is shut down because of the passing of a recent Texas bill that will shut down many abortion clinics in the state for not meeting new requirements set by the bill.
The bill comes in several parts, and the introductory bill can be seen online at the Texas legislature website, beginning with an affirmation that it is the job of lawmakers to protect unborn children and that because of scientific evidence of fetuses being able to feel pain at 20 weeks, pregnancies after 20 weeks are no longer legal save in the extreme case that the mother’s life is in danger or her body will suffer permanent damage from the pregnancy.
The second part requires doctors to have admittance privileges at a hospital in case of complications. That hospital must be within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The last main part of the bill requires that clinics meet the same standards as surgical health facilities.
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights are not fighting the 20-week cutoff date, choosing instead to pick their battles, but the last two main sections of the bill are under heavy fire. The largest arrow critics have shot at the bill is the amount of money needed to comply with the bill, making clinics up to standard with surgical health facilities.
These requirements will cost millions for clinics to upgrade, according to Bloomberg.com. A few of the requirements involve having hallways wide enough for stretchers and having janitor’s closets. This will reduce Texas’ abortion clinics drastically.
The Huffington Post showed in March that of 42 clinics that perform abortions in Texas, only five might survive under the new bill, all of which are listed in Texas’ metropolitan areas, including Houston.
Despite the more-than-11-hour filibuster by Wendy Davis, the Texas bill passed this September and many clinics have already closed, including one clinic in Bryan that closed its doors on Aug. 1.
Now Planned Parenthood is fighting fire with fire. It is suing the state. In an interview with Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Alejandra Diaz, she said that the bill imposed by Rick Perry does not help women’s health.
“Abortion is already one of the safest procedures,” Diaz said. “We already follow every regulation for safe abortions and related women’s health.”
According to Diaz, the bill does nothing but shut down important women’s health centers, thus impeding the struggle for women’s health.
According to an article from The New England Journal of Medicine “we are witnessing the dismantling of a safety net that took decades to build.”
In a web press release by Planned Parenthood, ACLU and CRR, they said that the “requirement that physicians who provide abortions must obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital … would not provide any added medical care to patients.”
Diaz reiterated the safety of legal abortion practices already in place, and there’s some evidence to back her up. Statistics from abortionabout.com claim that “fewer than 0.5 percent report experiencing a complication, and the risk of death is about one-tenth that associated with childbirth.”
Diaz said that at this point the Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood building isn’t going anywhere yet and its services will continue as long as possible, and gave a reminder that proceedings are in place.
However, Perry may get his wish if litigations for Planned Parenthood v. Abbott are not handled quickly. The Texas House Bill 2’s policies go into effect on Oct. 29.
Hopefully, women won’t be forced to endure another setback in women’s health. After all, Perry’s hope that abortion in Texas will be a “thing of the past” doesn’t sound like a gain for women’s health as much as a shot to the heart for abortion.
Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]