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How to close abortion clinics under the guise of women's safety

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That cost trickles down to women who need the procedure. In an abortion clinic, women pay on average $540, according to Hagstrom Miller. In a surgical center, the average cost jumps to $1,277.

Last week Deuell wrote off those concerns, saying health care costs have increased across the board and that clinics could “rise to the standard” if they truly wanted to. “Though, I would certainly say abortion is not healthcare,” he added.

Pro-choice advocates insist SB 537 bill adds insult to injury after a bitter 2011 session. To gauge the impact of the last session — when, along with passing the controversial sonogram bill, lawmakers axed two-thirds of the state's family planning budget — the Policy Evaluation Project at University of Texas at Austin surveyed 300 pregnant Texas women seeking an abortion. Half said they were unable to access their usual form of birth control in the three months before they got pregnant.

The state's own health commission says Texas will see nearly 24,000 unplanned births between 2014 and 2015, costing taxpayers some $273 million.

And it's those same poor, rural women who are likely to be further burdened by SB 537, said Amanda Stevenson, a graduate student researcher with the Policy Evaluation Project who testified at the Senate hearing last week. About 1.3 million Texas women would be more than 100 miles away from any of the five remaining abortion providers, Stevenson says.

“If the nearest clinic is so far away, and if it costs that much more, women are more likely to wait for an abortion,” Stevenson said. “Waiting longer is the one thing that we do know increases the risk of complications.”

Or, as Robert Prince, a Dallas-Fort Worth ob-gyn, put it, desperate women could be driven “underground.” “I am one of the few doctors who can remember the carnage that occurred before Roe v. Wade,” Prince warned at the hearing last week. 

Virginia Braun, who operates a Dallas-area abortion clinic, shouted down committee members, calling SB 537 draconian and dangerous. “We have patients sleep in our parking lots with their seven or eight children that they don't even have the money to feed, and you're suggesting that this is not a problem?” she questioned Deuell. “It is a problem, sir. They will take to coat hangers, sir. They will die.”

Campbell, meanwhile, applauded the “conservatives who want to put women's health first.” SB 537, she repeated, was not about restricting abortion but about ensuring patient safety. “Frankly,” she said, “I would expect every woman to be on board.” The committee approved the bill along party lines, sending it to the full Senate for approval.

Earlier in March, at a Senate Education Committee hearing, Campbell was more explicit with anti-abortion furor.

“Fifty million lives are intentionally ended by medical intervention over the last 40 years,” Campbell said before taking one pro-choice advocate to task. “When I hear your argument — you were not aborted. I'm amazed at those who make a point of promoting abortion. They're all alive. Your mom didn't abort you.”

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