HOUSTON – A few hours after Texas Governor Rick Perry signed new abortion regulations into law, Planned Parenthood officials announced that they will be closing three of their facilities in the Lone Star State.
As previously reported, Governor Perry’s signing of the pro-life bill—titled “House Bill 2” (HB2)—comes after weeks of opposition and occasionally unruly protests from abortion supporters. In addition to banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation–with the exception of the mother’s or baby’s health–HB2 also calls for increased health standards at abortion facilities.
On the very same day the pro-life bill was signed into law, Planned Parenthood’s Melaney Linton released a statement announcing the closures of three facilities in Texas. Linton is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast—a branch that oversees clinics in both Louisiana and southeast Texas—and once claimed that her work is a “sacred duty.”
In her statement, Linton explained that the Planned Parenthood locations in Bryan, Huntsville, and Lufkin will be closing by the end of next month. Though these three facilities have been operating for nearly four decades, Linton said Texas lawmakers have formulated unfavorable conditions for the abortion provider.
“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities,” she wrote in the statement. “Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control.”
Out of the three facilities closing next month, the Bryan location is the only office that regularly provides abortions (although the two other facilities offer “emergency contraception”).
“Women who have made the complex, deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy have relied on Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan, a separate, nonprofit healthcare provider,” she stated. “While we believe the excessive and medically unnecessary requirements imposed on clinics providing early abortion are unconstitutional, we have made the difficult and practical decision to close Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan at this time rather than face the prospect of having to do so in the foreseeable future.”
In 2011, pro-life legislators in Texas significantly cut state funding to facilities that provide abortion. Then, in 2012, Governor Perry severed funding to all offices of Planned Parenthood, regardless of whether or not they perform abortions. Since then, the abortion provider has struggled financially, and many Texans are hoping this initial round of closures will be the first of many.
However, considering the fact that two of the facilities scheduled to close next month will be unaffected by HB2’s provisions, some suggest that Planned Parenthood leaders are simply trying to drum up financial support for their cause in the midst of the Texas abortion debate. Those who posit this idea point to a “Stand with Texas Women” page Planned Parenthood recently launched to rally support for the pro-abortion cause.
Regardless of Planned Parenthood’s motives, pro-life advocates opine that fewer unborn babies will be killed as a result of Texas lawmakers’ efforts. Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Michael Norton said in a press release following the announcement that the closing of these three Texas facilities is an encouraging development, but more work still needs to be done.
“Planned Parenthood is more concerned with using American taxpayers’ dollars to pad its bottom line than providing competent healthcare to women,” he stated. “Although Planned Parenthood blames budget cuts for its decision to close down three of its Texas abortion clinics, … Planned Parenthood’s waste, abuse and potential frauds involving taxpayer funds should have shut it down long ago. We will continue to hold Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and all other Planned Parenthood affiliates accountable for its fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars and hope that even more abortion clinics will soon close.”
Photo: Governor Rick Perry’s Office