Lubbock Planned Parenthood Closed

Lubbock women will now have to go elsewhere to access abortion services. Both Lubbock Planned Parenthood locations, including the Women’s Health Center, have closed down as a result of a new Texas law.

Generation Healthcare, a non-profit, pro-adoption group, bought out both of the Planned Parenthood facilities in Lubbock in late October in what was called an “asset transfer.” Generation Healthcare released a media statement reporting that it will not provide abortion services as part of its health care. Generation Healthcare is an arm of Generation Covenant and Adoption Covenant.

The group’s CEO, Merinda Condra, stated in the press release that Generation Healthcare’s mission is to make certain that preventive screenings and routine health care services are available to all women. The release reported that Generation Healthcare assumed ownership and operation of the Briercroft Office Park clinic on Oct. 30. Also effective Oct. 30, all Planned Parenthood Associations of Lubbock board members resigned and the Generation Healthcare board assumed responsibility for the clinics.

A following press release stated that the Briercroft location is currently undergoing construction, but is open to provide health care services such as cancer screenings, blood pressures and cholesterol screenings and birth control. Plans are still underway to renovate the 67th and Indiana location into an education facility called the “Institute for Creative Learners.” The facility will combine art, technology and multi sensory teaching methods to help educate children with learning differences, the release reported.Unknown

Generation Healthcare could not be reached for comment.

This is only one of the newest developments involved in the controversial debate over a Texas abortion regulation bill. The bill, known as Texas Senate Bill 5, restricts when, how, and where a woman can get an abortion. Governor Rick Perry signed the bill on July 18 during a second special session.

The legislation prohibits abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, and claims that the state has a compelling interest to protect the life of unborn fetuses, according to the bill’s written legislation found on the Texas Legislature Online website. The bill stated that substantial medical evidence shows a fetus is capable of experiencing pain at 20 weeks.

The bill stated some cases are exempt if the continued pregnancy puts the mother’s life in immediate danger of death or serious-to-permanent physical impairment. An abortion is, as defined by the legislation, the act of using, administering, prescribing, or otherwise providing means with the intent to terminate a clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman wiht the knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the woman’s unborn fetus. This not only includes traditional and surgical methods of abortion, but methods of medication as well, such as the morning-after pill.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, in 2010, a total of 77,592 abortions were reported. This number includes all induced abortions performed in Texas plus those obtained in other states by Texas residents. There were 258 fewer abortions reported in 2010 than in 2009, when there were 77,850 reported.

Those numbers are even fewer than in 2008, when there were 84,610 abortions reported performed in Texas, according to statistics from the United States Census Bureau’s website. That compares to 89,160 abortions performed in Texas in 2000.

The states surrounding Texas have varying numbers. New Mexico reported 5,193 abortions in 2010, according to the CDC. Oklahoma reported 6,232 and Louisiana followed with 7,998. The only state that has a larger number of reported abortions than Texas is New York. New York also beats out Texas on the rate of abortion, at 27.6 percent, compared to 14.1 for Texas. Places like Delaware and Rhode Island also ranked above Texas, with rates of 21.1 and 18.5 percent, respectively.

The new Texas law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and all abortion clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Some of the standards for these centers include plumbing, heating, lighting, ventilation, and other design and construction standards, according to Title 4, Sec. 243.010 of the Health and Safety Code found on the Texas Legislature Online website.

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According to the bill, all clinics offering abortions must comply with the listed ambulatory center standards by this year, or close down. According to research by RH Reality  Check, there are 108 crisis pregnancy centers, or abortion clinics, in Texas. Six of those clinics currently comply with ambulatory surgical center standards: the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center in Dallas, the Planned Parenthood Southwest Fort Worth center in Fort Worth, the Planned Parenthood South Austin Clinic in Austin, the Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio in San Antonio, and the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice and Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center in Houston.

Clinics which could not find a doctor with admitting privileges at the end of October 2013 were forced to stop providing abortion services.

Angela Martinez, the managing director of the now-closed Planned Parenthood Women’s Center in Lubbock, said while the bill is aimed to make abortion safer for women, she believes all it will do is make it more difficult for women to access those services.

“These women are going to have to take time off of work, pay for gas, travel hundreds of miles and possibly have to spend the night — on top of already having to pay for a procedure that is several hundred dollars,” she said.

Martinez said the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas and Attorney General Greg Abbott to fight the abortion legislation. The lawsuit focuses on the aspect of the legislation including doctor admitting privileges and medication abortion. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District, Austin Division, and is still ongoing.

Elizabeth Trevino, an administrative assistant with the Nurturing Center in Lubbock, said she believes the bill is a big step for her anti-abortion movement.

“We didn’t win the war,” she said. “It’s not where we would want it to end completely, but it’s one step closer.”

The Nurturing Center is a ministry pregnancy resource center that Trevino said is dedicated to saving the lives of both mothers and babies. The Nurturing Center, funded by donations by churches and the community, provides pregnant women with resources such as baby items, food, clothes, counseling, Medicaid, adoption services and other non-abortion options.

Currently, the center sees five clients a week, but Trevino said she expects the number to increase if the Planned Parenthood clinic in the same neighborhood is shut down.

“You’d be surprised with how many girls we could talk to from next door who are right about to get an abortion,” she said, “and all they want to hear is, ‘We’re here. We’ll help you. We’ll help you through this, we’re here for you.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh God, I don’t have to do this alone. This isn’t what I want to do.'”

The ultimate goal for Trevino and the Nurturing Center is to have Roe v. Wade overturned, she said. Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 that affirmed the right to privacy extended to a woman’s decision to get an abortion, while still considering a state’s legitimate interest in both the mother’s and the unborn baby’s health. Rather than getting an abortion, Trevino encourages women to follow through with their pregnancy and then give the baby up for adoption.

“We always think adoption is a great option,” she said. “I know it’s a big sacrifice to ask someone to carry a pregnancy through without really wanting to do it, but adoption, at the end of the day, we think is great, great option for a mom who does not want her child or is not ready to be a mom. It’s a great gift not only to her, but to a family and this baby.”

Martinez argues that while she respect’s the pro-life opinion, she believes all women should have a right to choose between abortion and adoption.

“Everyone has a right to their own opinion,” she said, “but I think when it affects women’s decisions over their own bodies, that’s when it gets a little frustrating.”

Restricting abortion would not make it go away, Martinez said, it would only make it more difficult to access.

“If you’re against abortion, it doesn’t mean it’s going away,” she said. “If you make it harder for women to have an abortion, they’re still going to do it. I just want to be available for them so they can do it safely.”

 

About Carolyn Heck
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