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Clinics consider reopening

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the decisionmaking process, that’s for sure.

Abortion providers cheered a move by the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily block part of a Texas law that would have closed more than half the state’s 19 remaining abortion clinics. Now they are studying whether it could also allow them to reopen some previously shuttered facilities and whether that would even be feasible.

“We may have gotten more than we even asked for,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which sued to overturn the law. But she cautioned that reopening clinics would be expensive and difficult, not just “a turn of the key and turn on the lights.”

Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocates insisted Monday’s ruling, while at least a short-term victory for abortion providers, isn’t as sweeping as those groups hope.

Both sides agree the two-paragraph order blocks a requirement that would mandate abortion facilities be constructed like surgical centers. It was the final major component of the 2013 law set to take effect.

Abortion providers also said they were analyzing whether the order goes further and temporarily wipes out an additional requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

[…]

Without the Monday ruling, the state would have had no clinic west of San Antonio. Only one would have been able to operate on a limited basis in McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.

Stephanie Toti, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights who is representing the clinics, said some clinics that had previously closed might be able to reopen.

“We are hopeful,” Toti said. “But some of those clinics have been closed for so long.”

See here for the background. Reopening a clinic that had been closed would require money, hiring or rehiring staff, and applying for a state license, among other things. This may be one of those other things.

Texas doctors performing abortions must still obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said on Thursday.

The department’s statement comes days after the Supreme Court put on hold an appellate court’s ruling that would have closed at least 10 abortion facilities. Abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 — and set to go into effect Wednesday — would have required Texas’ abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other modifications.

Attorneys for the abortion providers had said the high court’s order also blocked the state from enforcing a separate provision of the law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. The Supreme Court restored a lower court’s ruling striking down both provisions of the law statewide, the attorneys said.

But on Thursday, Williams said the Supreme Court’s intervention only suspended the provision requiring hospital-like standards. Only some doctors at two clinics — Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso — are exempt from the admitting privileges requirement, Williams said. (The El Paso clinic has been closed for months.)

In light of the health department’s statement, Stephanie Toti with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of Texas abortion providers, said it is “studying the Supreme Court’s order to determine its impact.”

“We are hopeful that it may allow some of the clinics that had been previously closed due to the state’s admitting privileges requirements to reopen,” Toti said in a statement.

I have no clue what the effect of that may be. Beyond that, there’s no guarantee that the clinics would be able to stay open for more than a few months – while the expectation is that SCOTUS will hear the HB2 appeal, if they choose not to then the law goes into effect as soon as they make that decision, which would be in the fall. I don’t know what the licensing entails, but I doubt the state would feel any incentive to be very responsive about it. I don’t think fundraising to cover costs will be a problem, and I suspect there will be enough people dedicated to the cause to enable the clinics to be properly staffed, but these things take time as well. I hope they go forward, but I definitely understand if they are reluctant to do so. Daily Kos has more.

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