Planned Parenthood closing Lufkin clinic

Published: Jul. 18, 2013 at 6:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2013 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of Texas Gov. Rick Perry signing HB 2 into law, Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast will be closing its clinic Lufkin.

They will also close clinics in Huntsville and Bryan, according to a press release.

Of the three, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

"In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities," Melanie Linton, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast, said in a statement. "Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control."

Linton said "the combined impact of years of budget cuts to women's health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women's Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville - just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others - when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August."

According to the Brazos Valley Coalition for Life, Planned Parenthood's Bryan facility has performed abortions since the late 1990s. The group was formed in opposition to Planned Parenthood.

"In addition to losing reliable access to prevention services, women will also lose access to safe abortion services in Brazos County, due to the recent passage of politicized healthcare restrictions in Texas House Bill 2," Linton said. "Women who have made the complex, deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy have relied on Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan, a separate, nonprofit healthcare provider."

In the statement, Linton said although Planned Parenthood officials think the "excessive and medically unnecessary requirements" HB2 will impose on clinics providing early abortion are unconstitutional, they made the decision to go ahead and close the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan.

East Texas Family Crisis Center director Heather Kartye said the agency sometimes refers clients to Planned Parenthood.

"To be candid, we refer people to the health district and Planned Parenthood, but the health district offers pretty much the same services at a lower cost," Kartye said. "Anytime an agency closes, we have to adjust. We will continue to find ways to meet the needs of our clients."

Sharon Shaw, the administrator of the Angelina County & Cities Health District said they will work toward filling any gaps in women's healthcare services.

"The Angelina County & Cities Health District has been a partner healthcare organization in serving the needs of women in Angelina County for decades," Shaw said. "The Health District's continued mission is to provide quality public health and work to fill gaps in necessary healthcare services in our community whenever they may arise." 

The facilities in the three cities will close at the end of August, according to the reports.

Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast's Website stated that birth control and testing for HIV, pregnancy, and STD were among the services offered in the clinics.

"Planned Parenthood is grateful to the Bryan, Huntsville, and Lufkin communities for their decades of support and determination to ensure that high quality health care is accessible to all," Linton said.

One measure of the bill is abortions will be banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"I mean at that point you're at the halfway point already therefore you might as well go through with it," said Shara Johnson. "If you want to get an abortion, then you should've made that decision prior to the 20 weeks."

House Bill 2 also requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as surgical centers and doctors must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles from the facility where the abortion is performed.

"Abortion clinics don't exactly have the best reputation in the first place," Johnson said. "I really feel like maybe they could stay open in a sense. There's really no reason for them to shut down."

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