Commentary Abortion

Texas Crisis Pregnancy Center Expects Influx of New ‘Opportunities for Ministry’

Andrea Grimes

A Houston crisis pregnancy center's director says she expects an "inevitable influx of clients" after the passage of HB 2, which will shut down the vast majority of legal abortion clinics in Texas. But that's precisely what the bill's proponents said would never happen.

A Houston crisis pregnancy center is gearing up for a busy season, noting that many new “opportunities for ministry” will be coming its way thanks to Gov. Rick Perry and HB 2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill he signed into law on July 18.

Sylvia B. Johnson, the CEO of the Houston Pregnancy Help Center, wrote in the clinic’s newsletter last week that “this decision will most likely leave only six abortion facilities in operation in the entire state. Opportunities for ministry will increase due to the signing of this law,” she said.

Texas lawmakers who supported HB 2 might claim to be shocked by the pregnancy center’s newsletter, considering HB 2 was ostensibly never intended to shut down abortion facilities, only to “raise the standard of care,” as state Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) repeatedly put it, by requiring every abortion facility in Texas to be licensed as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC).

Indeed, that’s what state Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville), who carried the ASC requirement in a separate bill earlier this year, said in March: “This bill is not intended to decrease abortions or to close any clinic that does abortions.” Deuell also stated that he “just cannot buy the assumption that all these other clinics are going to close.”

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Bob Deuell’s staff must be rushing to correct this misstatement, seeing as how the senator appears to know for a fact that Texas’ 37 existing non-ASC abortion facilities have the nearly $2 million it takes to build a 5,000-square-foot ambulatory surgical center. No doubt he is in a panic, anxious to pass on his knowledge that Texas’ 400 existing ASCs are eager to see their sidewalks lined with protestors holding placards of dismembered fetuses as patients file in for colonoscopies.

Does Sylvia B. Johnson have information that the esteemed Dr. Deuell missed? Perhaps Johnson is getting her facts from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who last month enthusiastically expressed his support for “essentially” banning abortion statewide, gleefully retweeting a Planned Parenthood-produced infographic that shows just five abortion-providing ASCs remaining in the state if the requirements were put into place.

It’s hard to imagine Glenn Hegar, who co-sponsored HB 2 with Rep. Jodie “Rape Kits Clean a Woman Out” Laubenberg, and Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) huddled in a back room, wondering how they could have been so misled by legislation only ever intended to help Texas’ “vulnerable” women, as Hegar called them, and not as a means to reduce Texans’ access to safe, legal abortion.

“I believe we are improving women’s health care,” said Sen. Patrick in a half-whispered speech during the closing moments of the HB 2 debate on July 16, during which he also asked, “How would God vote tonight if he were here?” (The answer, of course, is that God would vote the way Dan Patrick votes.)

Of course, HB 2 and its ilk were always intended to shut down the majority of Texas’ abortion clinics. And in light of the conflicting reports from bill proponents about the intent and effects of HB 2, one has to wonder if those who voted for the bill understood all along that they were pushing Texans into back alleys or through the doors of the state’s crisis pregnancy centers, which have received $26.3 million in public family planning funds since 2005 and do not provide contraception or medical care beyond ultrasounds that cannot be used to fulfill Texas’ pre-abortion forced transvaginal ultrasound requirement.

We may not want to think that lawmakers would ever grease their tongues with lies about bad science and overwrought claims of religious piety just to pass a law that will help Gov. Rick Perry’s sister make a little money for her ambulatory surgical center. But one has to wonder.

(H/T Sarah Posner)

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