After a five-year absence in the region, Planned Parenthood plans to reestablish roots in West Texas by constructing two new facilities within the next year.

The announcement was made at a recent Dallas fundraiser for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas where CEO, Ken Lambrecht, revealed that the construction would be supported by a $9 million commitment from an unnamed, longtime supporter.

Currently, most of Planned Parenthood’s 35 facilities around the state are located in and around the DFW Metroplex, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. It has not been announced where the two new buildings will be located and whether they will provide surgical abortions.

The organization formerly operated two clinics in the West Texas region – one in San Angelo and another in Midland. While both closed in 2013 shortly after the state legislature enacted new funding and regulatory restrictions on abortion providers, a representative from the Midland clinic cited internal restructuring as the cause for closure.

Five years later, the abortion debate continues to make headlines in the state legislature.

Most recently, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers sued the state (Whole Woman’s Health vs. Paxton) over Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. SB 8 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2017 and banned dismemberment abortions – a common practice in second-trimester abortions where parts of a living unborn baby are removed in pieces using forceps, scissors, or similar instruments. The court ruled that Texas could not uphold the ban because it placed an “undue burden on the abortion right.”

Since Planned Parenthood’s departure from Midland and San Angelo in 2013, women’s health services in the region, especially those focused on low-income patients, have continued to grow.

“There are numerous clinics in the area that offer the services Planned Parenthood offers,” said Judy Rouse, Executive Director of The Life Center. She listed the Coleman Clinic, local hospital, and the local college as examples for Midland.

The Life Center, which operates in Midland, Odessa, Andrews, and Big Spring, offers a “holistic medical model” for women and spouses ranging from pregnancy testing and ultrasound scans to parenting education. According to Rouse, they plan to launch a pilot program this summer that offers STD testing and treatment for low-income families, with a focus on women ages 15-25.

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.