Texas HB2 will make abortions scarce, create hardships, provider says

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Pro-abortion rights advocates protest HB2 as anti-abortion supporters pass them in the Capitol in Austin July 12.  AccuNet/AP

Pro-abortion rights advocates protest HB2 as anti-abortion supporters pass them in the Capitol in Austin July 12. AccuNet/AP

By Neven Jones

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Mara Posada, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas, said most of their clients are trying to avoid unintended pregnancies and stay healthy.

Posada spoke at this college Sept. 24 as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Posada said because 71 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients in San Antonio are Hispanic, most marketing is geared toward them.

Anti-abortion supporter Katherine Aguilar holds a crucifix and prays in the Capitol rotunda in Austin July 12.  AccuNet/AP

Anti-abortion supporter Katherine Aguilar holds a crucifix and prays in the Capitol rotunda in Austin July 12. AccuNet/AP

Planned Parenthood began in 1939 as the Maternal Health Center. The name changed in 1944 to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood, which served 5,240 patients in 1953, was open to women of all economic classes, races and ethnic backgrounds, something unusual for the time.

In 1973, Roe v. Wade was upheld and abortion was legalized, leading to protests, bombings and violence at abortion clinics in the 1990s.

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed in 1994 to protect women from being blocked from entering clinics.

Planned Parenthood of Texas now oversees eight clinics: six in San Antonio, one in Harlingen and one in Brownsville, serving 27,000 patients annually.

Protests continued to the present.

Planned Parenthood spreads awareness to lawmakers of the widespread support for access to all health care, family planning and the right to reproductive choices.

In 2011, Texas Senate Bill 16 was passed, requiring women to be shown a sonogram of the fetus 24 hours before an abortion. The heartbeat must be made audible if there is one present, Posada said.

Planned Parenthood always provides sonograms because it determines the baby’s gestational age, Posada said.

Planned Parenthood does not agree with Texas House Bill 2, passed in July because it attacks abortion care, Posada said.

Three parts of Texas HB2 go into effect Oct. 29: abortions are banned at 20 weeks, physicians who provide abortions will need hospital privileges within 30 miles and off-label use of drugs will be prohibited.

According to WebMD, off-label use is medication being used in a manner not specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Planned Parenthood does not agree with the hospital privileges requirement either, Posada said.

On the surface, it seems important for doctors to have hospital privileges, she said.

Doctors get hospital privileges if they admit a certain number of patients every year to that hospital.

Abortion is a simple, safe procedure, Posada said. Physicians do not regularly admit people to hospitals because there aren’t many complications.

If the hospital is affiliated with a religious organization, the hospital may not grant privileges to doctors who perform abortions.

Posada said the Texas Hospital Association is also against Texas HB2 because they don’t think it’s necessary for physicians to have hospital privileges.

Posada thinks the bill is not making abortions safer.

“Instead of really making it safer, they’re just making it more difficult for health planners to be able to provide this care,” she said.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Sept. 27 against two provisions of the bill: the FDA requirements and hospital privileges.

Effective September 2014, all abortions, including medication abortion, must take place at ambulatory surgical centers. Posada said there is no need for an abortion to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center in the first trimester.

The percentage of women who abort after the first trimester in Texas is about 1 percent.

There already is a law in place that requires the procedure be done in an ambulatory surgical center after the first trimester, she said.

It is costly for centers to become an ambulatory surgical center because those are required to have hallways of a certain width, a janitor’s closet and patient rooms that are a certain size, she said.

An ambulatory surgical center is in between a clinic and a hospital.

The number of abortion providers has sharply declined in the past 10 years, in large part, because of laws like this, Posada said.

Women will have to travel further to get abortion services in either San Antonio or Dallas. For some women, this is a big deal and many times a financial hardship, she said.

The law also will eliminate abortion facilities in the Rio Grande Valley because the providers are not designated ambulatory surgical centers.

Posada believes everyone should be able to make his or her own healthcare decisions.

Before Roe v. Wade, women died from self-induced abortions, she said.

Some women are getting “flea-market” abortions, Posada said, referring to women taking pills sold at flea markets. Sometimes women take the pills and think they had an abortion, although it has not happened completely or safely.

Planned Parenthood clinics have private philanthropy funds that are used to help women who cannot afford an abortion.

The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equality, based in Austin, helps women who cannot afford an abortion. They verify income, and women pay using a sliding scale fee based on income.

Planned Parenthood also has a program called Proper Attire, which promotes safe sex.

The campaign was started through Planned Parenthood Federation of America, its parent organization and works with designers and artists to design condom packages.

For more information visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/south-texas/

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