Women in East Texas and the Rio Grande Valley face dire health care crisis
(PRESS RELEASE) Whole Woman’s Health announced the closure of its McAllen and Beaumont health centers today, leaving East Texas and the Rio Grande Valley without a single reproductive health care clinic providing abortion care. These closures are a direct result of the disingenuous and unconstitutional abortion restrictions in HB2, an omnibus law packed with measures aimed at regulating reproductive health care providers out of practice.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This is a devastating day for the thousands of women and their families throughout the East Texas and Rio Grande Valley communities who have relied for decades on the care and counsel of the medical professionals at Whole Woman’s Health.
“Politicians who have taken it upon themselves to second-guess both doctors and the private, personal decisions of women have eliminated two critical sources of safe, legal, high-quality reproductive health care, and they will have to answer for the harm their actions will cause in countless women’s lives.
“We will continue to stand with Texas women and health care providers against these relentless and unconstitutional attacks on their fundamental rights and freedoms. And we call on Congress, the courts, and caring lawmakers across the state of Texas and the U.S. to take decisive action to stop the growing health care crisis that millions of women nationwide now face.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights represents Whole Woman’s Health in its challenge to two provisions of HB2: a requirement that all abortion providers obtain from nearby hospitals admitting privileges that are not needed in the very rare case of medical emergencies and that are very difficult to obtain, and restrictions on women’s access to medication abortion, a non-surgical method of ending a pregnancy in its earliest stages that medical experts worldwide agree has proven safe over more than a decade in use. HB2 also bans abortion after 20 weeks and requires abortion clinics to meet the minimum standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) by Sept. 2014.
The admitting privileges requirement was initially blocked by the district court in October 2013, but the 5th Circuit reversed the injunction, allowing the requirement to go into effect immediately and cutting off access to abortion services for thousands of women in Texas. The women’s health care providers filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the injunction, but the Court refused in November 2013 and the law remains in effect today.
Harmful restrictions like these underscore the need for the federal Women’s Health Protection Act, a Congressional bill that would enforce and protect every woman’s access to safe and legal abortion care, no matter what state she happens to live in, maintaining the framework of regulations and limits recognized in Roe v. Wade.