On Monday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker called on the Texas Legislature to repeal H.B.2, the restrictive antiabortion measure set to take full effect in September. The law, passed last summer, will require all abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (along with a host of other challenging requirements), which will force the vast majority of Texas clinics to shut their doors. By removing reproductive care centers from large regions of the state, the Texas law will effectively rob women -- most of them poor -- of access to healthcare.
"As City Council Members, it is our duty to protect our constituents," the letter reads. "Houston residents and those who may come to Houston should have access to safe, legal reproductive health care."
Parker, joined by eight members of the Houston City Council, also issued a letter addressed to the U.S. Congress, pressing representatives to pass the Women's Health Protection Act. The law would protect abortion rights across the U.S. from targeted state laws meant to erode them. Houston is the second major Texas city to make such an effort to protect reproductive rights: In January, the Austin City Council made a similar request in an effort to prevent women from taking dangerous, illegal measures to attain logistically impeded abortions.
"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."