One year ago yesterday, Governor Rick Perry signed into law one of the country's most restrictive abortion laws. It's been a little over a year since Wendy's Davis' landmark filibuster, and it would be another few months before the bill withstood legal strutiny in federal courts. But here we are nonetheless, one year after the passage of the bill.
So where do we stand?
What's Changed Currently there are 20 fully functioning abortion providers in Texas. This is down 50 percent, from the 41 clinics that were open before the passage of the bill. The clinics' locations are limited to San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and DFW.
Activists are saying that the clinic closures is most affecting women living in the Rio Grande Valley. There have been some reports of a rise in do-it-yourself abortions, especially in South Texas, where Mexican over-the-counter meds can more easily be obtained.
The restrictions haven't been limited to Texas. "What began in Texas a year ago as the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country has spread across the nation," Terri Burke, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas, told reporters on Thursday. "Today, other states are restricting access to reproductive health care in ways that can only lead to the end of safe and legal abortions in the country."
Despite the restrictions, some are finding ways to work with the law. A Planned Parenthood clinic, funded entirely by private donations, will open in Dallas in the next few months. The new facility will be in full compliance of the law, and will also offer money for birth control, and a travel fund for women to get to the clinic.
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What We Can Expect Another wave of clinics in Texas will close their doors by the end of the year. The law imposed an ambulatory surgical requirement and says abortion clinics must have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. When this part of the law goes into effect in September, only six or seven clinics in Texas will be legally able to continue operations.
As more clinics close their doors, we can also probably expect more initiatives like the new Planned Parenthood clinic, and private donors funding future clinics. We could also see a surge in pro-choice grassroots organizations, like Fund Texas Women, that have been established as a reaction to HB2.
The 84th Legislature begins on January 13, 2015. And if the last session was any indication, Texas women aren't going to stay away.
"There is still tremendous energy in the grassroots opposition to HB2," said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, in a statement. "And the voices of those activists will remain strong until the legislation is repealed."