“Good News”: Rick Perry Celebrates HB2 Ruling That Will Close All But Six Clinics in Texas

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Rick Perry called the 5th Circuit decision yesterday that will close most abortion clinics in Texas “good news.”

Perry released a statement about the decision that read in part, “Today's court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women's health in Texas.”

This is only “good news” if the Governor wants to see Texans risk their lives, health, and well-being to end unwanted pregnancies when there are no safe, legal, accessible options available.

Today, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas sent an email to members emphasizing how badly this decision will hurt Texans who already struggle to access abortion.

Read on about how this decision will close all but six existing clinics in Texas.A piece by Andrea Grimes in RH Reality Check today breaks down how this ruling will harm Texans:

… the Fifth Circuit found that HB 2 “on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman,” even though it requires Texans to travel hundreds of miles round trip, and make multi-day trips, to legal abortion facilities. The part of the law which requires Texas abortion providers to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers was not challenged in this suit; come September it is expected to close all but six-or potentially seven, if a new Planned Parenthood clinic in San Antonio is able to open at that time-legal abortion providers in the state.

“The legislators lied when they said this law wouldn't close clinics,” said Hagstrom Miller.

She continued, “This law has closed clinics. This law has denied women access to safe care. This law is now and will in the future do great damage to the health-care infrastructure in the State of Texas.”

In 2011, there were 44 abortion clinics in Texas. By September, there may only be six. Two clinics have already closed in the Rio Grande Valley, and another clinic in El Paso is set to close soon. Additionally, East Texas has also seen a loss of access. This forces women across state lines and national boundaries, and the time delays make for more costly procedures with a higher potential for complications.

People who are not in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, or San Antonio — or cannot feasibly take up to four days to travel there, have a medically unnecessary mandatory sonogram, wait 24 hours, have the procedure, and travel home — are going to be shit out of luck.

This ruling will have the most adverse effect on Texans in rural communities, those who are poor and cannot afford the time off from work or the travel costs, and those who lack sufficient transportation access. The closures of regional bus routes and overall lack of transit in Texas only compounds the issue.

None of these clinic closures will change a pregnant person's mind about deciding to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Even an outright ban on abortion will not reduce demand — it will only drive pregnant people into unsafe, illegal situations that threaten their lives and well-being. Of course, the “pro-life” crowd seems not to care much about the inevitable outcome of these policies. Somehow, the death and maiming of actual women is superior to those self-same women being able to exercise a right more readily available in less-backward places.

NARAL Executive Director Heather Busby sent the following email to their list today:

“The regulation will not affect a significant (much less 'large') fraction of women.”

– Thursday's Fifth Circuit panel ruling upholding HB2

It is appalling that an all-female panel on the Fifth Circuit said this about Texas women. Even before HB2 passed, we know thousands of Texans were already struggling to access safe, legal abortion care. What a shame that Greg Abbott, the Attorney General who defended HB2, is now celebrating his big victory in court, a victory that ignores the reality a significant number of Texans face.

The Fifth Circuit panel found the Austin trial court's findings “vague and imprecise” and stated the judge “clearly erred that 24 counties in the Rio Grande Valley will be left with no abortion provider.”

In reality, every single prediction made in the trial court has come true: the Rio Grande Valley is left without any clinics. Now east Texas has lost its only clinic. There are clinics in El Paso, but none anywhere else in west Texas or the Panhandle. It sounds like the Fifth Circuit forgot how long it takes to drive across Texas, flat roads or not!

As a result of these efforts by Rick Perry, Texas Republicans, and a few shameful Democrats, one in three Texans who want an abortion will not be able to access one.

According to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, at least 22,000 people will be turned away from an abortion clinic each year due to an inability of facilities to meet demand.

The right-wing anti-abortion crowd is reading this and celebrating. Right now, big question is what pro-women, progressive Texans do in response to help those in need.  


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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