On June 25, 2013, Wendy Davis took the floor of the Texas State Senate and delivered her famous 11-hour filibuster. The rules were strict — no sitting down, no drinking water, just speaking about an abortion bill she believed would restrict women’s rights.
A year later, the wide-ranging bill Davis opposed is now law, signed by Governor Rick Perry. Davis is running as the Democratic candidate for governor. The law bans abortions after 20 weeks with some exceptions, and by September 1, will require all abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers. Supporters say it’s to protect women’s health.
“House Bill 2 makes sure that anyone performing abortions in the State of Texas is doing so in a facility that meets appropriate safety guidelines and that people there are prepared to handle any emergencies that might occur,” Gov. Perry said last year when he signed the bill into law.
But critics say that the requirement is unnecessary and is designed to restrict access to abortion in a state that already has some of the most restrictive laws in the country. A surgical center can cost millions of dollars to build, and many clinics are now being forced to close their doors because they don’t have enough funding to retrofit their facilities.
Today, there are 21 clinics open statewide according to Fund Texas Women, a non-profit that helps women access abortion services. By September, there will be six clinics left open, in five of the state’s largest cities, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin and San Antonio.
Amy Hagstrom runs Whole Woman’s Health, which operated several abortion clinics in Texas and is fighting the law in court. She’s already closed two of those clinics and will soon have to close two more.
Credit: Bradley Blackburn and Joanna Suarez