A reproductive health-care clinic that was recently forced to close due to stringent restrictions passed by the Texas legislature has once again opened its doors to clients after a doctor affiliated with the clinic obtained admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, one of five Whole Woman’s Health (WWH) clinics in the state, announced Tuesday that it would reopen. This leaves the WWH clinic in McAllen as the only one of the five clinics to still be closed.
The Texas legislature passed several restrictions on reproductive health care this summer. After a 13-hour filibuster by current gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the legislature reconvened later in the summer and passed HB 2, which created a slew of new restrictions on abortion care, including a mandate that doctors affiliated with clinics providing abortion services obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO at Whole Woman’s Health, told Rewire that “yesterday was a victory mainly because we can now serve women again and I can bring my great staff back to work.” As she explained, WWH was forced to lay off 34 employees at multiple clinic sites in the past three weeks due to the new regulations.
Because the process to gain admitting privileges is not standardized at hospitals across the state, doctors seeking admitting privileges must navigate different types of bureaucratic red tape. Hagstrom Miller told Rewire that WWH now has a doctor at four of five of their clinics with admitting privileges; each of the clinics previously had three or four doctors on staff.
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“Whole Woman’s Health in Forth Worth and the provider there had to perform acts of heroism, gymnastics, and rigorous stubborn determination to survive,” said Hagstrom Miller. “Yet, still the other three doctors that have served Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth so well for years up till now are still out of work and without privileges. It’s absurd.”
Despite the clinic’s reopening, Hagstrom Miller remains concerned about the overall effect the Texas legislature is having on women’s health. “It’s tragic. Absurd. And it changes by the day,” said Hagstrom Miller. “So yes this news … is a ‘win’; but it’s like a rug burn on Goliath’s knee, and Goliath is still very much in charge.”