Since Texas passed House Bill 2 last summer, which placed new restrictions on abortion services, women’s health centers have been closing down across the state. Only 19 of the 44 clinics that provided abortions three years ago are still in operation, and last week three more had to close. Two were located in the Rio Grande Valley, a high-poverty area, leaving no local clinics offering abortion to low-income women. These clinics also offered a range of reproductive health services; such as birth control, breast-cancer screenings and STI testing.
The clinics had to close because doctors there were unable to gain admitting privileges to local hospitals–a requirement of the new law. Admitting privileges are unnecessary, however, as hospitals are already required to admit patients in emergency situations. They’re an easy way for anti-choice legislators to close down clinics though, because abortion-providing doctors may find it impossible to obtain such privileges. Many doctors that work at these clinics need to be flown in, since local doctors face daily threats from anti-choice protesters—but only local doctors can obtain local hospital privileges. Many of the hospitals are also Catholic-affiliated, eliminating the chances for doctors who perform abortions to receive admitting privileges there.
With no clinics left in the Rio Grande Valley, women in this area seeking abortions will now have to drive two-and-a-half hours to San Antonio or Austin.