An analysis by Rewire.News found more than 200 fake clinics in Texas. Many of these organizations have a documented history of masquerading as medical facilities, using emotionally manipulative tactics, and promoting religious messaging.
Texas legislators have passed laws that dramatically reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state, while favoring policies that have led to the proliferation of fake clinics.
The estimated number of fake clinics nationwide vary significantly. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the anti-choice political action committee Susan B. Anthony List, estimates there are 2,752 fake clinics across the United States. In 2015, NARAL Pro-Choice America found 2,460 fake clinics in the United States and 167 fake clinics in Texas.
Emily Martin, program director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told Rewire.News that fake clinics are “thriving” in the state, while access to abortion care continues to be “bleak.”
“The actions of Texas lawmakers are decreasing the number of abortion clinics―and it’s completely intentional,” Martin said. “Their actions to increase funding is increasing the prevalence of fake clinics.”
Among the Texas fake clinics identified by Rewire.News, more than 50 receive state funding through the Alternatives to Abortion program, which was created by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2005. Since September 2014, more than $10.3 million in taxpayer dollars has been funneled to fake clinics that provide few concrete services and operate without oversight or accountability.
Republican lawmakers in 2011 approved dramatic budget cuts to the state’s family planning programs, and GOP lawmakers in 2013 passed the anti-choice omnibus bill known as HB 2. In the years that followed, more than half of the abortion clinics in the Texas were forced to close. After the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 struck down portions of HB 2, a handful of abortion care providers reopened clinics and restored some abortion services.
In 2011, there were 62 facilities providing abortion care in Texas. By 2014, that number was down to 44. During that same span, the number of abortion clinics—a type of abortion-providing facility—in Texas decreased from 46 to 28, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute. No other state lost more abortion providers during that period than Texas.
While there are 21 facilities providing abortion care in Texas today, there are only 12 abortion clinics licensed by the state. Nearly all of the abortion providers are located in the state’s major metropolitan areas of Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Texas is home to ten of the 27 “abortion deserts” in the United States, major cities where people have to travel more than 100 miles to reach an abortion facility, according to a recent study. There is at least one fake clinic in each of the state’s cities classified as an abortion desert.
For people living in those areas, Martin said, fake clinics may seem like the only option.
“I think it’s obvious that you could come to the conclusion that people living in places like the panhandle or West Texas, where there isn’t a nearby clinic that provides abortion, that they are going to end up [at] these places,” Martin said.