The provider reopened a clinic in deep-red Lubbock—a rebuke to the dismantling that the state’s reproductive health care safety network over the previous decade.
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Planned Parenthood reopened in Lubbock this autumn for the first time because state budget plan cuts and also anti-abortion regulations forced it come shut in 2013. (Lissa Anglin / Texas Observer)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published in partnership with the Texas Observer and also Texas technology Public Media, the NPR and also PBS affiliate in Lubbock.
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It to be a frigid October morning in the West Texas city that Lubbock as Shelley Woodbridge drove very closely over the thick black ice that covered roads; the coldest day in months, by far. Woodbridge, a single mother, crisscrossed town to drop her three young kids off at different schools. Just prior to 11 am, she turned onto 22nd location in the city’s medical District, and thought around the periwinkle dress she had on—her favorite. “I shouldn’t have actually worn this today,” she thought. “What if someone throws blood ~ above me?”
Woodbridge was the first patient at the new Planned Parenthood clinic in Lubbock—and the very first for the reproductive health treatment provider here because state spending plan cuts and also anti-abortion regulations required it come shut its clinic in 2013. Legislative constraints closed dozens of family planning and also abortion clinics across the state practically a te ago, leaving many Texans, specifically low-income and rural residents, without access to care. Few have reopened. Because that now, the Lubbock clinic offers health and wellness services including cancer screenings, contraception, STD testing, and also more. The plan is to sell abortions beginning in 2021, yet a start day hasn’t been set. Lubbock, located in a mainly rural, Republican component of the state, is just one of the an initial places to check out a to plan Parenthood return. The reopening has currently caused a backlash in the conservative university town.As Woodbridge pulled right into the parking lot, she chuckled to herself. It to be empty. She didn’t recognize what she to be expecting. Screaming protesters flanking her as she entered, maybe. A few days earlier, demonstrators had lined the sidewalk outside the clinic. In the parking lot, Woodbridge warmed her hands against the automobile heater and also pulled on a burgundy sweater before hurrying come the prior door the the low-slung beige brick building. A defense guard buzzed her in.
The clinic to be quiet. Staff led Woodbridge under the hallway to a room with big windows and also a shining fuchsia wall before her annual exam, which had a pap smear and also breast exam. The critical time Woodbridge, who is uninsured, had actually a checkup was once she was pregnant v the youngest the her three children, who is currently 4 years old. Her youngsters have health and wellness coverage, yet at the age of 33, through no preexisting conditions, Woodbridge states insurance for her would price thousands the dollars a year—an lot she can’t afford.Woodbridge functions as a realtor and also says her income is unpredictable, fluctuating every month. Rather of paying because that insurance, she’s relied on Google as her main medical resource, and also paid for medical professional visits out of pocket as soon as necessary. Once she needed birth control to help manage she hormones, the medical professional visit just to obtain a prescription would have expense $700, she says. So instead, she bespeak the pills online, hoping because that the best. “I think it is the usual mom lifestyle,” she says. “We put ourselves last.”Related Article
Access to reproductive health treatment is restricted statewide, but especially in vast, mostly rural West Texas. Lubbock, a city of about 260,000 that also serves together a medical hub for civilization in surrounding counties, has actually largely to be without committed family planning suppliers in recent years. For the 15 percent of occupants who room uninsured, choices for affordable reproductive health treatment are even much more scarce after year of spending plan cuts by elected officials. Few publicly funded family planning clinics stay in the region. Over there are simply three companies in the 41 counties that comprise the Panhandle and South plains regions that are part of the federally funded location X household planning program. The 2 federally qualified health centers in Lubbock, which administer a range of primary treatment services, sometimes have weeks-long waits for appointments. ~ the Lubbock center closed in 2013, there were no planned Parenthood facilities left in the western half of the state. And also for the last seven years, Lubbock occupants seeking one abortion have had actually to take trip at least 300 mile one-way come the closest provider in ft Worth, one of the longest distances from any kind of city in the country.
“There are very few communities that deserve to say they have adequate, affordable, and accessible women’s wellness care,” states Katherine Wells, director of public health and wellness for the City the Lubbock. “In Lubbock, women room diagnosed with late-stage breast and cervical cancer, there are high prices of STIs, and there room unplanned pregnancies. Increased accessibility to women’s health treatment can enhance these rates.” current Issue
In 2018, planned Parenthood announced to plan to open two clinics in West Texas, citing a dearth of services in the region. Barred from state capital streams, the organization launched a $16 million fundraising project for the expansion, with personal donations going toward running the wellness centers and also helping come subsidize treatment for uninsured patients, states Sarah Wheat, chief external affairs officer because that Planned Parenthood of greater Texas. In October that 2018, plan Parenthood returned to El Paso, which had actually been the largest city in the nation without a clinic after the last one closeup of the door in 2009. Last July, to plan Parenthood announced the it would open a Lubbock clinic, despite the location and timing were no released for security reasons. But after “monitoring” the old clinic location, neighborhood anti-abortion activists determined the brand-new address and shared it, together with photos, in a massive e-mail with the statewide anti-abortion group Texas right to Life in mid-October. Plan Parenthood opened up its doors simply a couple of days later.Before the old to plan Parenthood clinic closed in 2013, Woodbridge to be a patient. It to be there the she found out that she was pregnant at period 19. Newly married and also not prepared to have actually a baby at the time, she sobbed in the test room however remembers the registered nurses comforting her. After ~ Planned Parenthood announced its opening last year, Woodbridge states she scheduled an meeting online best away. She cried, again, as soon as clinic employee told her how much she fan at the finish of she visit: $0.While she identifies as “very pro-life,” Woodbridge claims many human being ignore the other crucial services the company provides, beyond abortion. “I carry out firmly believe that life wake up at conception. Yet with that said, every life matters, consisting of mine,” she says. “As women, we uncover it so difficult to to speak that, hey, i matter, ns worth it. Ns worth gaining checked out.”In mid-November, as Lubbock faced its worst Covid-19 surge yet, city hospitals ran out of beds, and public health and wellness officials pleaded with citizens to stop gatherings, hundreds of human being crowded into the downtown citizens Tower, as local officials taken into consideration making Lubbock a “sanctuary city because that the unborn.”
Outside the federal government building, a guy stood top top a slab the cement, microphone in hand. “We’re just here to pray end the world who space making decisions on the lives of little babies today,” the told the group in front of him. Nearby, a handful of world held indications supporting plan Parenthood. “Pro-Sex Ed, Pro-Birth Control, Pro-Science, Pro-Choice!!!” read one. A guy knelt a few feet in front facing them, his arms outstretched, praying.Lubbock is one of dozens that Texas municipalities to think about adopting a “sanctuary city” ordinance that seeks to ban abortion within city limits. As written, the edict would enable family members of an aborted fetus come sue the abortion provider, or anyone who assisted the mother with obtaining the procedure, for emotional damages. This could include a person who helped pay for the abortion or even noted transportation come the appointment. Note Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist from eastern Texas who began traveling town-to-town to press these ordinances in 2019, claims he hadn’t intended to focus on Lubbock till he heard about Planned Parenthood opened there critical year. No one of the 19 Texas communities that have so far passed such a measure have an abortion provider. The biggest city to execute so, large Spring, has one-tenth the populace of Lubbock.
After a seven-hour listening in November, City board of directors members unanimously voted down the anti-abortion ordinance, citing pertains to that it paris in the confront of federal law and also would open the city come legal challenges. Yet the measure up will now go come a public poll in a might 1 election.“One of the reasons why ordinances prefer this one room so harmful is the they’re confound people around what their civil liberties are,” states Anjali Salvador, who tested the ordinances critical year as a employee attorney v the American civil Liberties Union the Texas, and also now offer as plan counsel in ~ the national Institute because that Reproductive Health. “Abortion is tho a constitutional appropriate everywhere—every state and every city.”Planned Parenthood is consulting v attorneys in the event that the ordinance overcome in Lubbock in May, Wheat says. Legal experts have claimed that the steps are most likely unenforceable, and also at least seven other Texas towns have decreased to happen them for that reason. Lawyers rental by the City of Lubbock last autumn advised city officials the the proposed ordinance “is void because it disputes with, and also therefore is preempted by, state law.”This has not deterred pendant of the ordinance, however. In September, Lubbock’s state senator Charles Perry, a Republican who has actually been pushing the anti-abortion ordinance in addition to Dickson, hosted a gathering inside a pack Lubbock church to discuss the topic. He stood on a phase lit by violet lights, in between a handful of pastel-colored teddy bears and a bible verse projected on the wall behind. “We have an possibility today as a community and also as a city,” that said, “to push back on one of the darkest times of our country’s history.” A heat of supporters—one mrs and much more than a dozen men—stood in earlier of him, nobody wearing face masks. Perry, choose Dickson, loudly rejects the 1973 us Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide: “Roe v. Wade is no a constitution right. It’s common law,” he claimed to applause. “I hear, ‘It’s a state issue, that a federal issue.’ All that is simply half-truths, intended to distract and distort those reality: that God’s truth. That’s all that really problem in this.” around the ordinance, Perry said, “This will not come without a battle. It’ll no come there is no casualties.”Related Article
In an effort to defund to plan Parenthood, Texas leader have effectively dismantled the reproductive health care safety net throughout the state. In 2011, conservative legislators reduced the state’s family planning budget plan by two-thirds; more than 80 clinics, or one in every four, closeup of the door or stopped giving these services. 2 years later, lock kicked to plan Parenthood and other abortion providers and also their affiliates the end of the state’s low-income women’s wellness program. The approach was “like a sledgehammer on a thumbtack,” states Planned Parenthood’s sarah Wheat. Taxpayer dollars are already barred native paying for abortions. Instead, the state’s move blocked contraception access, cancer screenings, and also other preventive health services, shuttering dozens the clinics, the bulk of which were no Planned Parenthood facilities. Tens of thousands of Texans lost access to treatment in the state with the greatest uninsured rate among women of childbearing age.Researchers at the university of Texas in ~ Austin uncovered that after Planned Parenthood was excluded indigenous the women’s health program, use of the many effective, long-lasting creates of birth regulate dropped by about a third, and the variety of births among poor ladies on medicaid increased.Then, in 2013, the Texas legislative passed home Bill 2, a scan anti-abortion invoice that compelled doctors performing abortions to have actually admitting privileges at a surrounding hospital and that abortion clinics satisfy the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers, among other restrictions. The September, Angela Martinez, climate the manager that the plan Parenthood clinic in Lubbock, composed a short in a legal an obstacle to the law arguing that it created an unconstitutional undue burden on abortion access. The clinic would certainly not be able to comply with the admitting privileges requirement, she wrote, in component because the medical professional who noted abortions over there flew in from Houston when a mainly for two days in ~ a time. According to Martinez, anti-abortion protesters “harass health facility employees every day,” including by shouting insults, acquisition photos and also license plate information, and protesting at your homes. “I can not imagine a local physician gift willing to hazard his or her safety in this way,” she wrote. Many of the patients seeking one abortion there to be low-income, and currently many had to travel more than 100 miles from across the an ar to obtain there.
The clinic soon closed, a accident of both household planning cuts and HB 2. “Every other year to be just consistent funding cut and an ext restrictions,” Martinez says. To plan Parenthood infrastructure in at least a dozen parts of the state closed and never reopened, consisting of in various other West Texas cities choose Midland, Odessa, mountain Angelo, and also Abilene.In the months after HB 2 was passed, about fifty percent of the abortion clinics statewide to be shuttered. Researchers discovered that in Texas’s 254 counties, the variety of abortion facilities decreased from 41 across 17 counties in 2012, to simply 21 in six counties in 2014.In 2016, the us Supreme Court win down most of HB 2. Yet just a small handful that clinics have actually reopened since, mostly in major metro areas. “Once the clinic is closed, your staff is gone, you’ve offered up your lease, you’ve marketed your medical equipment, you’ve let your licenses expire,” states Wheat. “The reality is, in many, many, neighborhoods like this, household planning clinics have actually never reopened. And also those clinics that carry out abortions, with a couple of exceptions, have really no reopened.”Since opening its doors in October, to plan Parenthood in Lubbock has actually been may be to see as plenty of as 18 patients a day in between telehealth and also in-person visits, states Angela Martinez, who went back to the job of clinic director. Human being have travel from Brownfield, Canyon, Plainview, also Amarillo, nearly two hours north, because that appointments.Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers, who meet every two years, have ongoing efforts to eliminate Planned Parenthood in current sessions, kicking it the end of the breast and cervical cancer screening regime for low-income Texans in 2015; banning exclusive insurance from spanning abortions, consisting of in instances of fetal anomaly and also rape in 2017; impede partnerships through local governments on programs concerned teen pregnancy prevention, sex education, HIV testing, and more in 2019. In ~ the start of February, the state was poised to kick Planned Parenthood the end of Medicaid, following a five-year court battle. A judge intervened in ~ the last minute, setting a hearing because that mid-February. The move is currently on hold at least until early March. V a brand-new conservative united state Supreme Court, Republican legislator in Austin have filed receipt this year come outlaw abortion at 6 weeks and also to cause a complete ban in the event that state or federal regulations change.Related Article
For Shelley Woodbridge, the backlash come Planned Parenthood in her town is personal. “At the finish of the day, it’s just crazy to hear how black-and-white human being make these issues,” she says. “If every life important matters, climate the life that the human making their selection matters.”Ahead of she October visit, Woodbridge posted about her plan Parenthood meeting on Facebook. “I’m pro-education, pro-prevention, and also lastly pro-self care,” she wrote. “I am pro-life yet I’m just the captain of this uterus, i don’t have actually a to speak in what you perform with your uterus.” Woodbridge states she obtained some supportive messages, and also pushback, as she expected.“It was predominantly guys in mine inbox, which—oh man, nothing gets me heated prefer a man who doesn’t have a uterus come tell me just how to run mine,” she says, laughing.
Kaysie EllingsonKaysie Ellingson is a reporter for Texas technology Public Media.
Sophie NovackSophie Novack is an combine editor in ~ the Texas Observer that covers windy health.
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