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Texas Abortion Providers Fear They May Not Survive New Regulations

Photo: ALL PHOTOS BY CALLIE RICHMOND, License: N/A

ALL PHOTOS BY CALLIE RICHMOND

Dr. Lester Minto at his clinic in Harlingen, which provides preventative care as well as abortions

Photo: , License: N/A

Protestors outside of Reproductive Services of Harlingen


“The ‘still’ part raised our eyebrows. We learned she had taken some pills from a pharmacy in Mexico not under medical supervision and had to be rushed to a hospital for excessive bleeding. This doesn’t happen everyday, but it does occur,” Posada said.

“When a woman is desperate, she’ll do what she needs to do to terminate a pregnancy,” she continued.

A Shredded Network

While the legislation targets abortion, it could have the end result of further banishing basic women’s health care as clinics that also offer preventative services may close. With an already severely deteriorated women’s health care network, Texas may not withstand another hit.

The GOP-dominated state legislature slashed family planning funding by $74 million, or two-thirds, during the 2011 session. The results have already been deeply felt—according to the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 50 reproductive health clinics have closed their doors and an estimated 280,000 women are expected to lose basic services. With nearly 30 percent of Texans living without health insurance and efforts to expand federal Medicaid assistance blocked by conservative legislators, the overall reproductive health landscape appears fairly barren.

The most vulnerable and disadvantaged women must already choose between purchasing contraception and immediate economic needs, like gas and groceries, researchers with TxPEP found. Of the clinics that remain open, they’ve cut back on the most effective methods of contraception due to higher up-front costs, which, as researchers point out, may increase the likelihood of unintended pregnancy and thus, abortion.

Texas continues to experience a steady decline in available reproductive health care providers. Most recently, legislative cuts compounded with the removal of Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program forced three Planned Parenthood centers in East Texas to announce closure. Citing an “increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities,” clinics in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin will have to shutter this month. According to recent data provided by the Health and Human Services Commission, WHP program claims dropped from 23,407 in 2012 to 17,757 this year following the exclusion of Planned Parenthood.

San Antonio didn’t evade the massive legislative budget cutbacks—12 of 19 family planning centers in the city lost state funding, according to recent data from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Additionally, more than 17,000 San Antonio-area women were served by the state’s family planning program in 2010; today, just 7,000 of these women are able to obtain reproductive health services. On a granular level, the state funds allowed more than 11,000 Bexar County residents to access affordable preventative health screenings and contraception—but following the statehouse slashes, only 4,700 women see these basic services.

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