NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - One of the leading abortion providers in the state is permanently closing down its Texas locations.
Whole Woman's Health announced plans Wednesday to pack up its Fort Worth, McKinney, Austin and McAllen clinics and open a new one in New Mexico.
"We are still processing the fact that our lives work in Texas is over," said Andrea Ferrigno, corporate vice president for Whole Woman's Health.
The organization hasn't been offering abortion services at those locations since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade because of the near-total ban of the procedure in Texas.
Whole Woman's Health plans to open a new site in a border city of New Mexico, where abortion laws are less restrictive. They expect to perform the procedure there for patients in New Mexico, as well as people from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and other southern states where abortion care is restricted.
"We listen to our patients and what they need, what the needs of the community and respond to that and create our policies and our plans surrounding that," Ferrigno said.
It will likely be one of the closest options for someone in Texas seeking an abortion.
After Senate Bill 8 went into effect on September 1st, 2021, banning abortions after about six weeks, researchers from the University of Texas found on average, nearly 1,400 Texans traveled to other states to receive abortion care each month.
27% of those patients went to clinics in New Mexico for the procedure, despite reporting significant logistical and financial obstacles.
"It could be a catastrophic medical expenditure for them," said Jason Lindo, an economics professor at Texas A&M. "It's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of people who are seeking abortions are low-income individuals."
Whole Woman's Health does have a program to help cover the costs for anyone who needs to travel to their clinics in Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia and Indiana for abortion care, but they believe a location in New Mexico will better serve Texans and people in other southern states.
"It is very difficult to leave the state of Texas," said Ferrigno. "It is incredibly vast, and so traveling to other states can be challenging and so we know that the travel patterns between Texas and New Mexico tend to be easier. People feel more comfortable because it's recognizable. It's not very congested, and so I think that definitely makes a difference to our patients."
Whole Woman's Health is working to raise $750,000 to open the New Mexico clinic.
"With the shuttering of our four Texas clinics, we do not have the financial reserves to open in New Mexico without community support," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health and Whole Woman's Health Alliance. "We are asking for your help as we vacate our Texas clinics, move our needed equipment and supplies, buy and renovate a new clinic building, relocate and hire staff, and set up Whole Woman's Health of New Mexico."
The organization doesn't know just how long that process will take, but the goal is to have the new clinic up and running in the next few months.
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