Planned Parenthood, abortion clinics dwindle due to Texas legislation
Two abortion clinics remain in the city of Houston because of recent federal and Texas legislation.
Texas House Bill 2 addresses the regulation and procedure of abortions and the facilities providing this service. It was enacted in October 2013 and has since been amended to include several laws that have forced clinics to shut down rapidly, “dramatically (changing) the way Texas women will be able to access reproductive health care,” according to Fund Texas Choice.
Although Texas legislation allows abortions, there are certain regulations restricting the function or presence of abortion clinics. One of the abortion agencies battling this legislation is Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
“Women and families have trusted Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care and information,” said Alejandra Diaz, the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Communications Specialist. “But in states around the country, and on a Federal level, politicians are trying to eliminate funding for family planning or block Planned Parenthood’s participation in public health programs.”
“While the attacks vary, the intent to severely undermine women’s ability to receive basic health care — including cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control — is the same.”
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is an affiliation to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, but specifically targets the Houston area and all of Louisiana. Similarly to PPFA, PPGC focuses on services ranging from sexually transmitted infection tests to health education.
Despite PPGC claims of service, they must adhere to the regulations of HB2. Specific restrictions are that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic, abortions after 20 weeks are illegal unless a case of severe fetal abnormality or risk of woman’s death, prompting the medical judgement of a physician, and all abortion clinics must be ambulatory surgical centers.
In 2012, Texas housed 41 abortion clinics. In June 2014, after a second wave of enforcement of HB2, two abortion clinics lie in Houston, two in Dallas, two in San Antonio, one in Austin, one Fort Worth and one in McAllen for a total of nine.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton believed it was a just decision, however, for the sake of establishing safe standards of health care, as stated in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
“HB2 protects the unborn and ensures Texas women are not subjected to unsafe and unhealthy conditions,” Paxton said.
This battle between Planned Parenthood’s abortion services and Texas legislation dates back to 2012 when an “Affiliate Ban Rule” was implemented under Gov. Rick Perry and Human Services Commission with the intent to “to block Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program,” Diaz said.
According to PPGC, they have met high medical standards informed by the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and other leading health and medical groups.
Planned Parenthood has been under the spotlight for the past few months, after the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos of officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Congress is debating whether or not the federal government should strip Planned Parenthood of its $460 million in funding due to misspending.
With a potential loss of federal funding, the question arises of what exactly can a loss of funding do to Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics in the state of Texas, as well as to Houstonians who rely on the health care services both agencies provide.