Although HB 2 was passed under the guise of protecting women's health and holding clinics to a higher standard, the restrictions have shut down safe clinics while limiting women's access to reproductive care.
On the other hand, dozens of unregulated crisis pregnancy centers—where medicine is practiced without any state oversight—are thriving, according to Al Jazeera America.
Licensed family planning clinics from McAllen to Fort Worth have been shuttered or forced to reduce services as the constitutionality of the new laws is contested in court. The restrictions have created the perfect climate for crisis pregnancy centers to expand, which could pose significant threats to women's health.
Read more about these unlicensed clinics after the jump.Crisis pregnancy centers offer a number of services, but the ones that attract the most women are free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.
Unfortunately, many women who choose these clinics for their affordability are unaware that they do not offer full spectrum health services and are often run by religious organizations. They do offer graphic and unscientific “abortion education,” invitations to prayer, and misleading information about birth control.
Although they are geared toward women who are contemplating an abortion, the clinics can be equally dangerous for women who have wanted pregnancies that they decide to keep. Because of the lack of CPC regulations, ultrasound and sonogram exams are not required to be conducted by a licensed physician.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists condemns the practice, stating that it could actually put the lives of the fetus and the woman in danger:
Nonmedical ultrasonography may falsely reassure women. Even though centers that perform nonmedical ultrasonography and create keepsake photographs and videos of the fetus may offer disclaimers about the limitations of their product, customers may interpret an aesthetically pleasing image or entertaining video as evidence of fetal health and appropriate development. Ultrasonography performed for psychosocial or entertainment purposes may be limited by the extent and duration of the examination, the training of those acquiring the images, and the quality control in place at the ultrasound facility. Women may incorrectly believe that the limited scan is, in fact, diagnostic.
Abnormalities may be detected in settings that are not prepared to discuss and provide follow-up for concerning findings. Without the ready availability of appropriate prenatal health care professionals, customers at sites for nonmedical ultrasonography may be left without necessary support, information, and follow-up for concerning findings.
But despite the centers' practice of questionable psuedomedicine, the CPCs do not answer to the Texas Department of Health Services or the Texas Medical Board. In fact, Texas continues to provide the clinics with millions of dollars each year.
According to Al Jazeera America, “Such a laissez-faire climate means that anyone can set up shop and call it a pregnancy medical clinic.”
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.