Abortion clinics reopen across Texas

People protest in front of the Whole Women's Health clinic Saturday, Oct/ 4, 2014 in McAllen, Texas.
People protest in front of the Whole Women's Health clinic . Oct/ 4, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/The Monitor, Joel Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Abortion clinics in Texas could open as soon as Friday after the United States Supreme Court halted the Texas law passed last summer. It’s a temporary ruling so for now abortion clinics don’t have to meet hospital-like standards. But a Whole Women’s Health in McAllen will already be open by the end of the week.

Here in Austin, the Whole Women’s Health along Interstate 35 in Austin will remain closed. Many Texas abortion clinics could not comply with House Bill 2, and reopening them will be a slow process.

“Definitely a disappointment for the pro-life community,” John Seago from Texas Right to Life said as he describes his frustration over the court ruling. Texas Right to Life lobbied for last year’s abortion laws.

“They can’t win at the ballot.They can’t win at the statehouse. So this is what’s left is that they go to the courthouse to stop pro-life legislation,” says Seago.

Since the other clinics in Austin closed, Planned Parenthood officials say they’ve been overworked. The day after the Whole Women’s Health clinic closed, Sarah Wheat says 200 calls came in to schedule the procedure.

“It’s really hard for health centers when they don’t know week to week what services they’ll be able to offer and it’s more confusing for the patients,” said Wheat. She says up to 13 clinics could be reopened.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas continues to be the only center in Austin for abortions. Whole Women’s Health gave up their license and have to re-apply. To make that happen, the group would have to rehire it’s staff.

There’s many steps still left to decide the issue. Right now the case stands with the 5th District Court of Appeals in New Orleans. They should make a decision in the next few months. Most likely, when that panel reaches a verdict, the losing side will appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. It’s up to the high court to decide if it will take up the case.

The legal fight over the abortion clinics building standards has overshadowed other parts of the law. Those includes a ban on abortions after 20 weeks or five months. State statistics suggest those cases are relatively rare. Before the law passed more than 85 percent of abortions were done within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The law also required abortion providers to have “admitting privileges” at local hospitals that requires doctors be present when a woman takes a pill that induces abortion.

In 2011, lawmakers passed a rule requiring a woman have an ultrasound and then come back 24 hours later before an abortion can be performed. That includes medication induced abortions.

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