Next month, a dozen abortion clinics in Texas will close because they don't meet tough new standards outlined in the controversial abortion law that passed last summer. Planned Parenthood in Dallas will open its new facility -- which will be one of just seven clinics in the state that meet the new requirements.
Kelly Hart, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood of Greater Dallas, says the new South Dallas clinic is like a mini-hospital.
There are multiple waiting rooms, private exam rooms for sonograms, counseling and recovery areas.
“The main difference is that this building is larger," Hart says. "This building is designed to perform a range of surgeries that we will not be performing. Basically we are here to be in compliance with the law.”
The law, known as HB2, outlines strict new standards for abortion clinics – specific hall and doorway sizes, ventilation and sterilization systems, even male and female locker requirements.
Hart says to speed up the move they purchased an existing surgical center and are essentially retrofitting it.
“We didn’t want to have to do it," Hart says. "Or if we were good want to provide a larger range of services which we might in the future we would have wanted to do it in our own time table.”
Since 2011, getting an abortion in Texas has been a two part process. First a woman is required to get a sonogram. Then she has to wait at least 24 hours for the procedure. And it has to be done by the same doctor who did the sonogram.
So many women have to find a place to stay overnight. And because the new rules are forcing a dozen clinics to close in Texas, travel is another obstacle.
“We know we will be one of fewer than ten providers in the state that will still be open come Sept. 1.," Hart says. "But we don’t know if women in other parts of ht state will be able to overcome the vast distances and financial challenges that it will take to come from their part of the state here to Dallas.”
Which is why Planned Parenthood has set up a fund to help women pay for transportation and lodging as well as contraception to plan and prevent unintended pregnancies.