The last abortion clinic in the vast, impoverished Rio Grande Valley closed Thursday, along with the sole remaining clinic in the 400-mile stretch between Houston and the Louisiana border, posing a tall obstacle to women seeking to end pregnancies across a wide swath of the nation’s second-largest state.
The closures in McAllen and Beaumont bring to 19 the number of clinics that have shut down since Texas lawmakers adopted tough new abortion restrictions last summer. Twenty-four clinics remain to serve a population of 26 million women, and more closures could happen after additional restrictions take effect later this year.
Lawmakers required all abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, all abortions to take place in a surgical facility and all women seeking abortion-inducing medications to make four clinical visits. Those rules made it impossible for the clinics in Beaumont and McAllen to stay open, said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.