Austin abortion clinic closes doors; more could shutter

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin clinic that performs abortions closed its doors on Thursday.

Whole Women’s Health said the closure of their North Austin clinic was “the result of politicians acting against the women in our state when they passed HB2.”

“They continue to be relentless in taking personal health decisions away from women by passing onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions,” said CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller.

Hagstrom Miller said Whole Women’s Health and other independent providers will challenge the restrictions passed during the legislative session next week in front of a U.S. District Court judge. The requirements set forth by HB2 go into effect Sept. 1.

“I’ve had to struggle with it a lot. It feels heartbreaking on some levels. I feel sad about closing the clinic,” said founder Amy Hagstrom Miller.

New standards mean hallways would have to be wider and doors would have to be bigger for stretchers.

“Not only is it about hallway widths and about the size of the operating rooms, but it’s about airflow systems,” Hagstrom Miller said.

Pam Cobern runs Austin LifeCare. It is a pregnancy care center, which does not offer abortions. It’s a roughly two mile drive away from Whole Woman’s Health.

“That’s been their option to close instead of providing additional healthcare services for women,” Cobern said. “You know, I am not really sure how that’s going to affect us. I’m assuming that we’ll see more women.”

The clinic had until Sept. 1 before some of the new rules kicked in.

Hagstrom Miller says she chose to shut down now because the clinic’s lease is ending and the license is coming up for renewal.

She also says there will be one abortion provider left in Austin come September.

“We hold out hope that this trial will allow us to remain open and continue serving that community and possibly even reopen some of the Whole Woman’s Health clinics that HB2 forced us to close,” Hagstrom Miller added.

The group’s surgical center in San Antonio already meets the requirements and will remain open in the future. Their Fort Worth location is also still open, but its future hinges on next week’s ruling.

KXAN visited the Whole Women’s Health clinic in Austin in June 2013. See that story in the video below:

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