Thirteen clinics that offer abortion in Texas shut down today, after a ruling late yesterday from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Only 7 places are now left in the state to get an abortion, a year after the controversial law went into effect.
The main impact of the ruling was on clinics that are not ambulatory surgical centers, as required by the new law.
Dr. Howard Novick operated one of those clinics, off the Southwest Freeway in Houston.
He actually closed the clinic Tuesday, saying he expected this ruling and at 73 is too old to find a new lease.
“I wasn’t surprised. I’m sure it’s going to go to the Supreme Court and I just hope it gets reversed, otherwise, we’re in trouble. Women are in trouble,” Novick says.
Novick was a resident at a Brooklyn hospital before abortion was legal.
He said one to three women a day came to the hospital because of complications from illegal abortion, such as bleeding.
Some young women had to get hysterectomies and he saw one woman die. He fears a return to that era, especially for women in South and West Texas, who now have to travel hundreds of miles to reach a clinic.
“They’re going to pay a huge price. If they can’t have it done, they’ll either do it themselves, or they’ll get it done illegally,” Novick adds.
The ruling stops abortions at three clinics in Houston. The two remaining clinics in Houston are surgical centers.
Lawyers for the providers are considering their legal options.
Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, released the following statement:
“This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.”
Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, released the following statement:
“This is a devastating day for Texas women. The court’s decision ignores the medical experts, who have recognized that these laws hurt women, not help them. It essentially tells extreme politicians not to worry about medical evidence or a women’s safety, and that it doesn’t matter if women and families pay the price.”
John C. Jennings, MD President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released the following statement:
“Decades ago, the US Supreme Court recognized that the US Constitution guarantees women access to safe, legal abortions; that’s a settled matter. Thanks to good medical care, abortion is one of the safest procedures. Under the guise of making abortion safer, these requirements actually make abortion less safe and will prevent women from getting the abortions they need. Even procedures with higher complication and mortality rates don’t have to meet these specious standards. Women deserve better from their elected representatives, who should be protecting — not working to take away — their Constitutional rights.”
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, released the following statements:
“Today’s ruling has gutted Texas women’s constitutional rights and access to critical reproductive health care and stands to make safe, legal abortion essentially disappear overnight.
“It is an endorsement of politicians’ disingenuous tactic of undermining women’s safety under the false pretext of protecting it, and of their unconstitutional intrusions into the personal, private decisions of every woman and family facing an unintended pregnancy.
“All Texas women have been relegated today to a second class of citizens whose constitutional rights are lesser than those in states less hostile to reproductive autonomy, and women facing difficult economic circumstances will be particularly hard hit by this devastating blow.
“Absolutely no woman’s rights or access to essential reproductive health care should be determined by her zip code. We will continue fighting on every front to put a stop to these assaults and defend every woman’s right to the full range of safe, legal reproductive health care.”