Today, Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston, and eight members of the Houston City Council called for the repeal of H.B. 2, a Texas law that will leave the state with just six abortion clinics as of September 1. In a letter to the U.S. Congress and the Texas State Legislature, they also pressed Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, a law that would protect abortion rights from encroachments like H.B. 2.
"As City Council Members, it is our duty to protect our constituents," the letter says. "Houston residents and those who may come to Houston should have access to safe, legal reproductive health care."
Houston is the second city in Texas to support the repeal of H.B. 2; the Austin city council issued a similar demand in January. H.B. 2 passed last summer and says that doctors must have admitting privileges in local hospitals, abortion clinics must meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers, women undergoing a medication abortion using the "abortion pill" must make extra clinic visits, and abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are illegal. Most components of H.B. 2 have already been rolled out, and the final piece, mandating that clinics be ambulatory surgical centers, will go into effect in September. As a result, women in vast swaths of the state will lose abortion access and have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain a legal procedure. There are already many women taking matters into their own hands and having illegal procedures or procuring abortion-inducing drugs on the black market.
"When the Texas legislature passed HB2, we knew Houston residents could be harmed by it," the letter says. "We also knew that Houston would become one of the very few places left to get an abortion (and in some cases, any reproductive health care) in Texas, and that women's health and lives would be put at risk because of that."
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