Abilene Planned Parenthood Forced to Shut Down; Pro-Life Supporters Celebrate

Nearly twelve years to the day since Planned Parenthood opened its doors in Abilene, the end is now in sight.

Due to cutbacks in state funding to a women's health program by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the Abilene branch at 3449 N. 10th St. is shutting down come November 9th -- and the reactions are mixed.

"This morning, we started addressing it with our clients and many are in shock, many are incredibly concerned about where they're going to go for healthcare, and many of our clients are pretty angry," said Carla Helova, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood.

But to members of West Texans for Life, who have been praying and protesting the organization for 21 straight days now, this is the victory they have been waiting for.

"I'm happy that they're closing their doors, but it took a long time and I'm sad so many babies had to die," said Paula Matchen, the organization's president.

"We're all delighted that the abortion factor is leaving this community," said volunteer Anita Mayberry.

And to that, Planned Parenthood's interim CEO said this:

"I think it's just ridiculous. They're outside celebrating that a women isn't going to be able to access a needed breast exam or pap smear in their community."

The Abilene branch serves 1,200 women in the community with birth control, breast exams and pap smears.

While they can still drive over to the San Angelo branch for those services in the future -- obviously, it won't be the same.

"Everyone knows when you have to find a new clinician or a new doctor, it's not an easy thing," Helova said. "You like who you go to, you're comfortable with who you go to and you don't want to have to switch."

So is this a disservice to women in Abilene?

Depends on who you ask.

Pro-life community members say women can still get the same healthcare services at the same costs here in town -- minus the one thing they staunchly stand against.

"There are a lot of people in this city, because it's a city that cares, and if somebody is in need, they're going to be seen," Matchen said, as she and fellow volunteers handed out lists of alternative healthcare providers for low-income or uninsured women.

Meanwhile, Helova said the funding source that's been cut has nothing do with abortions.

Regardless, the tedious task of transferring hundreds of medical files and patient records -- and shutting down the building for good -- now begins.

The two healthcare providers at the Abilene location will retain their positions and be transferred within the organization. 

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