Former abortion clinics in red states are trying to pivot to other services after Dobbs. But they’re finding it’s not so easy.
By ALICE MIRANDA OLLSTEIN
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Patients arriving for an appointment at the West Alabama Women’s Center one year ago would brave a gauntlet of chanting protesters, skirt an idling police car, take seats in a crowded waiting room and wait for one of the clinic’s dozen busy staff members to help them terminate a pregnancy. Over the clinic’s nearly 30-year history, visits also included the risk of being shot, bombed or rammed by a vehicle.
But when Abigail arrived on a Tuesday morning in April, nearly 11 months after the fall of Roe v. Wade, the parking lot was so quiet you could hear the clinic’s windchime tinkling faintly in the hot breeze.
Even in states with bans, a handful of abortion clinics are still open, providing ‘aftercare’ for patients who travel out of state or manage their own abortions
Fri 5 May 2023
The patient on 9 March was a tricky case.
She was pregnant and seeking an abortion, but had previously had a cesarean section, which could create complications if the placenta embedded in her surgical scar. Houston Women’s Reproductive Services couldn’t perform the procedure because Texas had banned abortions, but the clinic could do an ultrasound and communicate with the provider in New Mexico, where the patient was heading for her appointment. Then, once the patient was back in Texas, the Houston clinic would provide any follow-up care and support she needed.
BY CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI
APRIL 24, 2022
In a third-floor medical suite with sweeping views of a Texas highway, staff members at Houston Women’s Reproductive Services are adapting to the new demands the state’s restrictive abortion law has placed on their jobs.
They try to schedule every patient for a visit on the same day she calls, lest that patient lose a single valuable day of the narrow window for care. They linger on the phone with frantic women who are already terrified that they’ll be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, even though they are just a day or two late on their period. And they have pivoted, in many cases, to dispensing emotional and logistical support instead of medical care.
With Texas’s strict abortion ban still in effect, patients have been forced to wait weeks for an appointment — disqualifying many who otherwise would have been able to access abortion
By Caroline Kitchener
Feb 14, 2022
When the woman started crying in the ultrasound room, Joe Nelson tried to comfort her, as he has comforted dozens of other patients who are too far along to get an abortion in Texas.
She was a single mother with two kids at home, experiencing a rare pregnancy condition that had left her too nauseous to work, said Nelson, a doctor at Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion clinic in Austin. The woman was over the legal limit established by Texas’s restrictive new law, Nelson said, but just barely. A few days earlier, he could have performed the abortion.
By Katherine Dautrich, Isabelle Chapman, Majlie de Puy Kamp and Casey Tolan, CNN
Fri October 22, 2021 (CNN)
Nicole began her morning with a simple prayer: "Please let my car start today."
She had already gotten the mandatory ultrasound, scrounged up $595 and taken time off work. But at that moment -- with her pregnancy at exactly six weeks -- getting an abortion in her home state boiled down to her hatchback's temperamental engine turning over.
by Caroline Kitchener, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Ann E. Marimow and Casey Parks
Oct 7, 2021
Abortions after six weeks of pregnancy were allowed in Texas on Thursday for the first time since the nation’s most restrictive abortion law went into effect there on Sept. 1. Some abortion providers resumed offering the procedure after a federal judge issued an order Wednesday evening blocking enforcement. But many providers said they would keep complying with the ban until the legal issues are resolved.
Less than two hours after U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman granted the Biden administration’s request for an injunction, Texas said it would appeal to the conservative-leaning U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Regardless of how the appeals court rules, the issue could quickly make its way back to the Supreme Court, which last month turned down a request by abortion providers to stop the law from taking effect.
By Caroline Kitchener, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow
Sep 1, 2021
AUSTIN — A Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect Wednesday, as a midnight deadline for the Supreme Court to stop it came and went without action.
The court could still grant a request from abortion providers to halt the law, one of the nation’s most restrictive. But for now, abortion providers in Texas, including Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health, said they will no longer terminate pregnancies more than six weeks from a woman’s last period.
Abortion providers are preparing for the law to take effect this week
August 30, 2021
HOUSTON — Kathy Kleinfeld’s cellphone lit up for the first time on Monday at 3 a.m. By 7 a.m., she had 13 missed calls. When she couldn’t be reached by phone, she said, patients emailed, desperate to schedule their abortion with Houston Women’s Reproductive Services before Wednesday, Sept. 1, when Texas is on track to ban abortions after six weeks gestation, before most people know they’re pregnant.
Calls soared once Kleinfeld got to work. The ringing of the office phones reverberated as Kleinfeld, the clinic director, and three other staff members juggled up to seven calls at once, jumping up every few minutes to buzz in a patient at the door. While S.B. 8 could still be stopped before Wednesday, clinic staff counseled patients as if the law was a certainty.
The State’s Ban Isn’t Stopping Texans From Getting Abortions
The order from Governor Greg Abbott, closing abortion clinics through April 21, has sent many out of state to seek the procedure—in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Arielle Avila
Apr 13, 2020
Update: On Thursday evening, federal judge Lee Yeakel blocked parts of the state's temporary abortion ban, allowing clinics to legally offer certain abortion procedures. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the ban, with limited exceptions.
More than one hundred patients at Whole Woman’s Health facilities in Texas were turned away on March 31 for appointments that some had scheduled the day before. The morning of the 31st, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that an executive order banning abortion during the coronavirus outbreak could remain in place, reversing a federal judge’s block of it, meaning that many who hours before thought they could go through with their appointments now could not. According to Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and president of the organization, patients were begging, often in desperation, to see the clinicians. But with the order back in place, there was nothing doctors could do except provide funds for some patients to fly to get their abortions out of state, increasing their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus or unwittingly exposing others.
For Supporters Of Abortion Access, Troubling Trends In Texas
November 18, 2019
(also 6-minute podcast)
Whole Woman's Health, which provides abortions in Texas, was forced to close its Beaumont clinic in 2014 as a result of House Bill 2 taking effect. Despite the Supreme Court's overturning the law, most of the shuttered clinics in the state never managed to reopen.
Pu Ying Huang
Over the past few years, abortion providers in Texas have struggled to reopen clinics that had closed because of restrictive state laws.
There were more than 40 clinics providing abortion in Texas on July 12, 2013 — the day lawmakers approved tough new restrictions and rules for clinics.