Planned Parenthood reopens first abortion clinic in Texas

May 3 (UPI) — Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has resumed abortion services at its Waco clinic after now-overturned state laws forced the family planning and women’s health services organization to shut it down.

The clinic in Waco reopened in mid-April after the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned provisions under a Texas law that the clinic, which opened in 1994, could not meet. The clinic restored abortion services on Tuesday, the first Planned Parenthood facility to do so since the state law fight.

Under the overturned law, Texas House Bill 2, abortion facilities needed to include minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, and meet other structural and ventilation system requirements. Doctors needed to also have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The Waco clinic got a new operating license in the fall after HB 2 was overturned.

Under HB 2, all but seven abortion providers in Texas shut down. Before the law passed, there were 40 abortion providers in the state.

Stephanie Mabry, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told the Waco Tribune-Herald the shutting down of the Waco clinic complicated access for women to “safe, legal abortion.”

“We saw increased wait times for the patient. We saw women who were needing to take off several days of work, and to find child care for those they left behind,” Mabry said. “A lot of times we saw that women went from needing an abortion in the first trimester to needing one in the second trimester because of the distance and wait time. That not only increases cost but complications when you wait longer.”

Anti-abortion activists have been protesting since February against the return of abortion services. The activists had a shared message: “Never again in Waco.”

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“Certainly, it’s a big disappointment that this has happened, that abortion has returned to Waco,” Pro-Life Waco Director John Pisciotta said after the Waco clinic reopened. “We had hoped that maybe they would reconsider their decision.”

Mabry said the abortion clinic, which is adjacent to a Planned Parenthood women’s health clinic, will be open by appointment on certain days of the month. Mabry said the cost for abortions is paid for by patients or by private donors, not by public funds.

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the historic … ruling last summer, affirming the dignity of women and eliminating key portions of Texas’ controversial, medically unnecessary abortion restriction law, restoring abortion services has been a priority for Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas President and CEO Ken Lambrech said in a statement. “Without access to abortion, Texas women face unnecessary and dangerous barriers that cause delays and can lead women to jeopardize their health. These barriers have disproportionately impacted rural and low-income women who may not have access to transportation, childcare, time off work, and the ability to travel hundreds of miles.”

Danielle Haynes contributed to this report.

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