News / USA

Why Many Texas Abortion Clinics May Stay Open

Police carry pro-choice advocate down stairs of the State Capitol, Austin, Texas, July 13, 2013.
Police carry pro-choice advocate down stairs of the State Capitol, Austin, Texas, July 13, 2013.
Reuters
Most of the Texas clinics that abortion rights advocates predict will close because of a new law requiring tighter health and safety standards likely will remain open — at least if history is any guide.
 
Governor Rick Perry signed the new legislation on Thursday, capping a whirlwind month in which Texas became the center of a national campaign by anti-abortion activists to restrict when, by whom and where the procedure can be performed.
 
Included in the new Texas law are requirements that abortion clinics meet hospital-style health standards, ranging from installation of hands-free sinks to upgrades to ventilation systems. Supporters call the rules crucial safety standards.
 
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposed them, saying that they are "unnecessary and unsupported by scientific evidence."
 
The new laws in Texas and elsewhere have alarmed abortion rights advocates, who see them as an attempt to thwart the right to abortion granted by the Supreme Court in 1973.
 
In Texas, Planned Parenthood announced on Thursday that it was closing one of its 13 abortion clinics that provide abortions, citing the new law. The nation's largest abortion provider said the rules could force all but a handful of the 42 abortion facilities in Texas to close down.
 
But similar warnings in other states have not come to pass.
 
Twenty-six states have laws that require abortion clinics to meet varying levels of hospital standards, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Pennsylvania, Virginia and Missouri passed strict health and safety rules similar to Texas, it said.
 
In those three states, however, most clinics were able to stay open after the laws passed, some by re-allocating dollars to comply with building upgrades, according to abortion providers and state health department officials interviewed by Reuters.
 
"It seems like an exaggeration from the other side that access is going to be cut off," said Mallory Quigley, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony list.
 
Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights but does research cited by both sides, said the new law will have an impact in Texas but maybe less than the worst fears.
 
"Clinics will close," she said. "But I can't say we are going to go down to six."
 
Of the 24 clinics in Pennsylvania prior to a tough new law in 2011, one closed voluntarily, according to the state health department. The state closed two others for serious violations including a freezer lined with frozen blood, and stained surgical instruments in dirty drawers, according to reports by state inspectors.
 
Two others were consolidated into a third clinic but maintained the same level of service to women as before, said  Dr. W. Allen Hogge, chair of the Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
 
All of the remaining 19 clinics are in compliance, said Pennsylvania health department spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk.
 
"To be honest, we weren't counting numbers as far as how many were going to close," said Micaiah Bilger, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an anti-abortion group. "The purpose of the bill was to ensure basic health and safety standards for women that are going into these centers."
 
Comply or close?
To remain open, some Pennsylvania clinics invested thousands of dollars to upgrade their facilities. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, for instance, said it spent about $400,000 to renovate two clinics after the state began implementing tougher standards in June 2012.
 
They installed hands-free sinks, new flooring and upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, said spokeswoman Maggie Groff.
 
"They had to spend large sums of money to comply that otherwise would have been put into patient care," Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Women's Law Project.
 
Only one clinic has closed in Virginia since a new law was implemented there earlier this year, the state health department said. No clinics have closed in Missouri because of a tough law passed there in 2007, abortion provider Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri said.
 
The national campaign to push for tighter restrictions on clinics gained momentum after the May conviction of a Philadelphia doctor, Kermit Gosnell, of murdering three babies born alive during abortions by severing their spinal cords.
 
Prosecutors in the case described his clinic as a "house of horrors" where recovery chairs were bloodstained and equipment broken.
 
The Gosnell case, Quigley said, shows "the abortion industry is not capable of policing itself."
 
Abortion rights activists said Gosnell was an exception among mostly safe and legal abortion providers.
 
In addition to the tough standards for clinics, the Texas law bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, requires doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and limits the use of the RU-486 drug to end pregnancies.
 
It requires all abortion facilities to meet the standards of "ambulatory surgical centers" that perform outpatient surgery. First trimester abortions, which account for most such procedures, rarely require surgery.
 
"What is frustrating to us, as physicians, are rules coming out in Texas and other states that are catching on like crazy but are not medically based. They are to shut down abortion facilities," said Dr. Anne Davis, consulting medical director with Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national organization of doctors supporting the right to abortion.
 
Planned Parenthood said on Thursday it was preparing to sue the state of Texas over the new law, a tactic they employed in Missouri when the state in 2007 passed legislation requiring clinics to meet outpatient surgery standards for most abortions.
 
The two sides reached a settlement in 2010 under which Missouri waived some rules for clinics that only performed first trimester abortions, thus avoiding closings, said Peter Brownlie, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Manuel from: Bolivia
July 19, 2013 5:15 PM

Errors or problems of parents can not be paid with the lives of unborn children.

It is not my life, it is the life of another human being that I must respect and protect.


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs