|Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood staffer turned anti-choice darling, spoke at the event. She said that she had been "praying" for the closure of these clinics since she became a Christian and recognized that she had been a "really big sinner."
The man behind the idea for 40 Days for Life, a 40 day period (generally Lent, but they like to get their protest on twice a year these days) during which protestors attempt to have constant coverage of Planned Parenthood clinics, was also in attendance. "We don't like bullies," he said, in explaining his opposition to Planned Parenthood. Of course, the praying for (and shouting at) employees, clients, and other visitors to the clinics during these periods couldn't be considered anything of the sort.
Bobby Reynoso, Executive Director for Coalition for Life, called the gates that once opened into the facility "the gates of Hell." For almost 3000 people in the Bryan area, these gates granted them access to reproductive health care and compassionate medical services at an affordable price. These people, and their health, are not the focus of his concern.
In her comments to the group gathered to celebrate the clinic's closure, Johnson told them that despite this victory, "...it's far from over." She could just have easily been speaking about the devastating impact of cuts to family planning and the passage of ever more restrictive laws regarding abortion services.
Five Planned Parenthood clinics in total closed last month, following the passage of HB 2 and Governor Perry signing it into law. But, these closures are not just about the omnibus abortion bill. Access to reproductive services has been under attack since the Tea Party wave in 2010, and it seems there is no end in sight.
As long as Abby Johnson and Bobby Reynoso pray, fundraise, lobby, and shame their way to success, Texas' health and future are at risk. The goals of these anti-choice activists are narrow and short sighted, and will not result in a lower rate of abortions in our state. Only 10% of the services provided at the clinic were abortion procedures. What about those clients who made up the 90% of patients seen at the facility, and who had come to rely on Planned Parenthood in Bryan as their provider?
Though certain advocates, like HB 2's author, claimed to be concerned with women's health, a legislative associate for the Coalition for Life said that her organization's focus was much more simple: "Obviously, we're not shy about our goal of ending abortion. But I would hope that women would have the options that they would need so that they would not see it as a necessary option anymore."
For her, and all of those celebrating this and other clinic closures in Texas, this is the key misconception: by pushing to close these clinics, they are limiting access to the very options patients need to reduce abortion procedures in the first place.