Aug 29, 2023 - News

Austin Women's Health Center at risk of closure

Illustration of a line of people waiting at a red cross-shaped door.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The independently-owned Austin Women's Health Center could soon close its doors as it struggles to make up for lost abortion revenue.

Driving the news: The nearly 50-year-old reproductive health care clinic must raise $75,000 to stay open, according to a GoFundMe created by former clinic director Julie Smith.

  • As of Monday afternoon, the account had raised over $11,000.

Flashback: Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended all federal protections for abortion, the state's so-called "trigger law" went into effect. It made performing an abortion a felony, except when the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant person's life.

What's happening: Austin Women's Health Center remained open despite the end of Roe, continuing to offer other reproductive health services like ultrasounds, contraceptives, miscarriage management and follow-up care for those who have received abortions out of state.

  • The clinic saw more than 3,000 patients between June 2022 and June 2023, an increase in patients seeking non-abortion services compared to 2021, Smith told KUT.

Of note: Smith, who lost her own position because of budget cuts, told KUT that the clinic often serves patients who are uninsured or enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.

What they're saying: Patients are too intimidated to come in and the clinic is receiving fewer referrals because of fear of legal action, per the GoFundMe.

  • "If Austin's last remaining safe, independent reproductive healthcare clinic closes due to relentless attacks, loss of revenue, and confusion about the law, our fellow Texans will have nowhere to turn for a minimum of 150 miles away from Austin," the GoFundMe says.

Zoom out: Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit threatens to shut down Planned Parenthood in Texas, the organization warned this month.

  • A judge will decide whether Planned Parenthood, with roughly three dozen health clinics in Texas, should repay Texas millions of dollars the organization received through Medicaid.
  • The nonprofit says the claims are "meritless."

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