Half of Texas' abortion clinics closed due to new federal regulations

EL PASO (KHOU) - As a federal lawsuit challenging new abortion regulations in Texas moves forward, a deadline looms for clinics that have not complied. Half of the state's 40 clinics have closed, including a long time facility in West Texas.

"It was devastating," said Gerri Laster, of Reproductive Services of El Paso.

Laster worked with the clinic for 35 years. Before it shut down June 30, the clinic provided a range of services including, abortions, family planning, gynecological services and vasectomies.

"We did adoption services," said Laster. She now focuses solely on adoptions in a small office a few blocks from the old location.

Reproductive Services is part of a federal lawsuit challenging the state's tighter restrictions on abortion clinics including requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals and clinics to meet the same standards as surgical centers.

Laster says she still gets multiple calls a day from women asking for help.

"We're fast running out of options for this region. And yes, it's going to put an undue burden on the women," said Laster.

The last abortion clinic still open in El Paso, Hilltop Reproductive Services, did not respond to repeated phone calls requesting information about when it would close.

Laster says that clinic is not a member of the National Abortion Federation which provides funding for low income women who qualify to help cover some of the cost.

"It's all out of pocket for the women," said Laster.

Critics of the new regulations say women in West Texas will bear an unfair burden because the closest facilities in Texas that comply are in San Antonio, about an eight hour drive and 550 miles one way.

Supporters of the tighter restrictions say those women can use another abortion clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico just 15 miles across the state line.

Critics say since that clinic and others in New Mexico do not have to meet Texas standards, West Texas women are not afforded the same patient protections the state's new regulations are supposed to provide.

Others question whether Texas needs the new standards at all. "All these laws are made on political issues, not medical," said Laster.



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