A big win for the Texas Taliban

Becca Aaronson reports that at least nine abortion facilities in Texas – a quarter of the Texas total – have stopped providing abortion services.

I keep telling people this and they (some of them) don’t believe me. Yes abortion isn’t yet 100% illegal again, yet, but it is more and more difficult to get one in more and more of the country.

From Aaronson’s story in the Texas Tribune:

After the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision Thursday to lift an injunction on new abortion regulations in Texas, at least nine abortion facilities — about a quarter of the state’s abortion providers — have discontinued abortion services in light of the new law.

The court’s decision is “having an immediate impact starting today, and what that impact is depends on each woman and where she lives,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood has discontinued abortion services at four Texas locations: Fort Worth, Austin, Waco and Lubbock. Wheat said staff members began calling patients to cancel appointments Thursday evening soon after the appellate ruling came down.

“Depending on that patient and what her circumstances are, we’re either referring her to another health center in that same community or telling her which cities she’ll have to travel to,” Wheat said.

Victory for the “don’t let the bitches weasel out of it” crowd.

The appellate court’s decision overrules U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s ruling that a provision in House Bill 2 that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital imposed an undue burden on women seeking the procedure. Additionally, Yeakel ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the state to require physicians to follow federal standards for drug-induced abortions if a physician determined it would be safer for the woman to use a common evidence-based protocol.

“The law is in effect and facilities are required to comply effective immediately,” Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services, said in an email. “The new requirements will be part of our review criteria when inspecting facilities.”

Abortion opponents and several state leaders are praising the appellate court’s ruling.

Of course they are. More women held hostage to their reproductive machinery.

“While the Supreme Court prohibits state legislatures from banning most abortions, states should have the right to protect women from dangerous abortion procedures,” Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said in a statement. He said the provisions would increase patient safety and lauded the appellate court for allowing them to take effect.

The appellate court’s decision “affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”

By which he means, everything we can to prevent women from having control over their own lives.

“It is a sad and dark day for women in Texas,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, said in a statement. She said Whole Woman’s Health is stopping abortion services at three of its five locations — in Fort Worth, San Antonio and McAllen — because those locations do not have a physician with hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the facility. Whole Woman’s Health facilities in Beaumont and Austin will continue to provide abortion services.

Well that’s ok, it’s not as if there are large distances to travel in Texas.

Oh wait.

The only other abortion provider in the Rio Grande Valley, Reproductive Services in Harlingen, is also discontinuing abortion services, because its physician does not have hospital admitting privileges. That means the closest abortion facility to the Rio Grande Valley is now in Corpus Christi, which is more than 100 miles away from McAllen and Harlingen.

A separate Reproductive Services clinic in El Paso has also stopped providing abortion services. While there is an abortion facility in nearby New Mexico, the closest Texas abortion facilities to El Paso are in San Antonio and Dallas, which are more than 500 miles away. With abortion facilities in Midland and San Angelo recently shuttering, and with the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lubbock discontinuing abortion services, there are vast stretches of West Texas and the Panhandle without a nearby abortion provider.



  1. Andrew B. says

    “While the Supreme Court prohibits state legislatures from banning most abortions, states should have the right to protect women from dangerous abortion procedures,” Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said in a statement.

    If they get their way, the only “abortion procedures” available will be those that virtually guarantee a woman’s fucking death:self-induced abortions. Culture of life my ass. From the state which has executed more people than any other, and gleefully executes the mentally retarded as well. Get bent, already.

  2. Pteryxx says

    Women are increasingly being forced to cross state lines to get an abortion

    Maryland is a good illustration of the situation, but it’s hardly the only example of women needing to cross state lines to access reproductive care. Texas recently enacted harsh restrictions on abortion providers that will force 90 percent of the state’s clinics to shut down; in response, the Dallas Observer published a tongue-and-cheek “travel guide” for women in the state who may need to go elsewhere to obtain reproductive care. But the outlook is bleak. “When we look at the states surrounding Texas — you know, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana — there are not that many providers in any of them,” Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, pointed out. Reproductive rights activists actually suspect that Texas women will cross the border into Mexico to obtain abortion-inducing drugs on the black market.

    Similar situations are unfolding in other states. The Centers for Disease Control records especially high numbers of out-of-state women seeking abortion care in Alabama, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Rhode Island. However, the agency’s most recent numbers are from 2009, and since then, abortion access in many states — including the states where many out-of-state women sought care — has narrowed even further. Abortion access in many red states may now be worse than it was in the 1960s, before the procedure was legalized under Roe v. Wade.

    What do poor women in Texas do? Buy cheap abortion-inducing medications… at flea markets.

    ThinkProgress, Bloomberg

  3. Rowan says

    I wonder, are there any stats out there (im almost sure there are) for the safety of abortions?

    Like I’m sure these people used some form of evidence (probably either anecdotes or assfax) showing how dangerous they are and how many women are hurt by them…and then I’m sure people who actually know what they’re talking about presented real data.

    Also, what does ‘physician with admitting privileges’ mean? That there just has to be a hospital within 30 miles? That there has to be someone on staff in the clinic who also works at a nearby hospital? Or they need someone standing by at all times at the hospital just in case?

    Plus, how does that protect women anyway (obviously thats not the point, but they need to at least pretend it is and have SOME justification)? Like if there wasnt some tie between the hospital and that clinic that if something did happen that the hospital wouldn’t take the patient? That somehow you need an “in” just to get into a hospital. Like hospitals are exclusive nightclubs, and not places you can call up and in no time have a noisy car with blinky lights show up and take you there while everyone else gets out of the way.

    Going back to my question about stats, I’m sure theres plenty of things that people do (preferably something these people do) which are statistically more likely to require a trip to a hospital, surely they should have the same restriction. Or would the “no handling a loaded firearm unless your buddy also has admitting privileges to a nearby hospital” law not get much traction in Texas for some reason?

  4. says

    @Rowan @2: Wikipedia and its sources inform me that clinical abortions performed in the US between 1991 and 2012 have been approximately 14 times safer than pregnancy (risk of death 0.6 per 100,000 procedures, risk of serious complications a few times that; maternal death during pregnancy is about 9 per 100,000 pregnancies).
    The “physician with admitting privileges” line is nonsensical, at least according to the few physicians I’ve asked about it (both abortion providers and emergency room doctors). If you have a complication during a procedure that requires emergency room treatment, you call the ER and an ambulance. If there is a complication after the procedure (e.g. an infection) that requires hospitalization, there is time to call the relevant doctors who will admit the patient. As Ophelia said, this is a transparent attempt to force providers of safe abortions out of the market – so that the Texas government can claim to be “pro-life”.
    As an illustration of how bad this could get: one quarter of providers in Texas are closing. Ideally, most of the women who need abortions in Texas will still be able to get them (although with unacceptable barriers to care). But say that one-quarter of the population of Texas no longer had access to safe abortions. WHO numbers are that world-wide, unsafe abortions have a 1 in 500 death rate (in the US, that rate may be lower). Do the scaling from the world-wide number to Texas. This law could kill up to one person a week.

  5. Claire Ramsey says

    Anti-abortion people lie all the time about the safety of abortion. . . they tell women that an abortion will sterilize them, will make it hard to conceive later, will make them depressed and / or suicidal later in life. They do not care that abortion is safe, safer than being pregnant. They also do not give a shit about “life” – once a fetus is born, it’s on its own, especially if it is born into a poor family. Then the precious fetus just becomes a dependent “taker” on welfare, who should just die if it gets sick or starve when it gets hungry.

    Those Texans who don’t care at all about whether their stupid laws are constitutional. Do they care about protecting women’s health? Nope.

    Complete assholes.

  6. otrame says

    So they get what they want. Dead poor women. Especially dead poor teenagers.

    Because believe me, friends, upper middle class and wealthy woman can still get safe abortions. To everyone else it’s back to the coat hangers.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    michaelbusch @ # 3 – I think the wikipffft stats you cite may err on the side of understating the risks of non-abortion (does “during pregnancy” include delivery?).

    The Guttmacher Institute (an independent but Planned Parenthood affiliated research center) reports:

    Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with minimal—less than 0.05%—risk of major complications that might not need hospital care. … The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16–20 weeks—and one per 11,000 at 21 or more weeks.

    Alas, I don’t have time now to dig for pregnancy/delivery mortality figures, but recall that in the ’90s finding that first-trimester abortions had 1/11th the death rate (and that was after many of the high-risk cases had moved to the abortion column).

    Once, wearing my reporter hat, carefully not revealing my biases, I asked a US Centers for Disease Control spokesperson about discrepancies between CDC stats and some from Guttmacher. He immediately and without qualification told me that in case of any conflict, the Guttmacher figures were more reliable.

    Hard to think of a higher recommendation.

  8. leni says


    Or would the “no handling a loaded firearm unless your buddy also has admitting privileges to a nearby hospital” law not get much traction in Texas for some reason?

    No faith healers without admitting privileges?

  9. says

    @Pierce R. Butler: I do not have the information to say which set of data is most reliable. Certainly any restrictions that delay abortions to later in pregnancy than necessary increase the risks, even if those abortions are performed in a safe clinical setting. And the basic conclusion of “clinical abortion is more than an order of magnitude safer than pregnancy” remains correct regardless of which numbers are being considered.

  10. lpetrich says

    “Abortion in the United States by state” and “Abortion law” in Wikipedia have the gory details. Before Roe vs. Wade, parental notification and consent, waiting periods, counseling, ultrasound, and fetal homicide.

    It seems to me that abortion is some unfinished business from the 1960’s cultural revolution. Reforming abortion laws started late in it, and Roe vs. Wade came near the end of it. The Equal Rights Amendment came along a bit later than abortion-law reform, and after quick progress, it stalled just before ratification in the late 1970’s.

  11. Francisco Bacopa says

    I live in Texas and as I understand the main difficulty most abortion providers are facing is that their doors are a couple of inches too narrow. The admitting privileges is not that serious a burden, most clinics either have that or could get that except for a few rural clinics.

    The main burden is the “ambulatory surgery” requirement. You have to have doors wide enough to fit a gurney and all the accessories that you might find in a hospital. There are only about five abortion providers in Texas that have this. Abortion providers do not need this. Most abortions are less serious than the oral surgery I am having next week when I get a titanium screw put into my jawbone. I am getting this done in a clinic that falls far short of the new restrictions on abortion providers, even though they sometimes use general anesthesia there.

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