Planned Parenthood announced Friday that it will close its Midland health center by the end of the month, citing “attacks” from state lawmakers who “continue to politicize and sacrifice women’s health.”
Besides providing abortions, the 40-year-old center offering a range of health services for more than 2,000 low-income women a year, including cervical-cancer screenings, STD tests, family planning and other health services.
The closest center now will be about two hours away in San Angelo, said Mara Posada, the communications director of Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas, calling the closure “a loss for the Midland community.” The San Angelo center offers an abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy, not the surgical procedure.
The board of Planned Parenthood of West Texas decided on the closure Thursday night but did not announce its decision until late Friday afternoon.
“They decided to look at where they could best preserve healthcare services,” Posada said. “And they thought unfortunately that Midland was not one of those where that could happen.”
In a statement, Jeffrey Hons, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas offered some explanation:
“In West Texas alone, the number of patients getting family planning health services at Planned Parenthood has dropped by about 50 percent as a direct result of the 2011 Texas Legislature’s policy to end family planning contracts and the decision by Governor Rick Perry to dismantle the Women’s Health Program, forcing Planned Parenthood to close its health center in Midland — at least for now. Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas will continue providing health care services at the San Angelo health center.”
Board members did not make themselves available for interviews and Posada said she could not give further information about the factors that went into deciding the closure.
But there have been hints for months that the center’s future was uncertain in the current political climate.
Last month, Perry signed a bill into law that created someone of the toughest restrictions on abortion in the country.
Bishop Michael Pfeifer of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo praised the governor’s signing at the time, saying there are other places where women can go to get health care, and said abortion is a “terrible evil” and that he favored shutting down all abortion clinics.
Opponents said they would challenge its legality in court.
The law bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, restricts them to surgical centers and requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Only five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas met those requirements — in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston.
But the law didn’t immediately take effect: The 20-week ban and the hospital-admission privileges requirement don’t take effect until 90 days after the special session ends. Abortion clinics have until September 2014 to comply with the surgical-center standards
“Some additional health centers will close, and some will open,” Hons said in the statement. “I hope there will be a time in the future when we can restore Planned Parenthood’s service to the women in Midland and Odessa.”
A woman who answered the a phone at Midland’s Planned Parenthood late Friday afternoon said the office had closed early for the day.