AUSTIN, Texas —
"A wave of laws is now bluntly focused on driving providers out of business via a thicket of regulations designed not to benefit patients but, as some of their proponents admit openly, to make it impossible for many providers to come into compliance," said Rachel Benson Gold, director of policy analysis for Guttmacher, in a report last month. The laws "are a solution in search of a problem."
While Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S., most women undergo the procedure at independent clinics, which function more like local small businesses. Unable to access the same government grants, tax- exempt donations and political clout, they often have a harder time affording renovations required by recent state laws.
Most won't be able to afford the cost, said Charlotte Taft, who runs the Washington-based Abortion Care Network, which represents independent providers nationally.
Building a new surgical center with four operating rooms would cost $6 million to $8 million, said Jason Cagle, chief financial officer for United Surgical Partners International, which operates 64 centers in Texas, more than any other company. Abortions aren't performed at the Addison-based company's facilities.
"A clinic is much less," Miller said. "I just bought the Fort Worth clinic last year for $398,000. It is 4,000 square feet and in the same city, two miles apart, from where Planned Parenthood just built their surgical center for $7.5 million."
In 2004, when Texas required abortions past 16 weeks be performed in surgical centers, none of the clinics could comply. Now, six facilities around San Antonio, Dallas and Houston meet the standard.
Fewer than 2 percent of the 72,470 Texas women who had abortions in 2011 were pregnant for more than 16 weeks, according to the most recent data available from the state Department of Health and Human Services.