Antiabortion Activists to Planned Parenthood: ‘We’re Moving In’

They used to protest outside the clinic, but thanks to restrictive laws in Texas, 40 Days for Life is now running the place.

Antiabortion group 40 Days for Life cuts down a Planned Parenthood sign. (Photo: Courtesy 40 Days for Life)

Nov 12, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Nicole Pasulka is a writer and reporter who lives in New York City. She has written for Mother Jones, BuzzFeed, The Believer, and the New York Observer.
An antiabortion group is taking over the lease on a building that used to house an abortion clinic, turning it into a new headquarters for the pro-life movement. Last week, the Bryan, Texas–based organization 40 Days for Life announced that a facility offering care to pregnant women that doesn’t include termination will set up shop on the former site of a Planned Parenthood clinic.

A 2013 antiabortion law forced Planned Parenthood to close facilities across Texas. Now the 40 Days for Life headquarters will have its own Care Net–affiliated pregnancy center. With an explicit aim of preventing abortions, Care Net, a nationwide network of antiabortion pregnancy centers, says they offer “practical help, emotional support, and information about their pregnancy options.” Planned Parenthood calls these centers “fake clinics run by people who are antiabortion.”

The past year has been a pretty rotten one for abortion access, which means it’s been a boon to antiabortion activists. 40 Days for Life, which began 10 years ago in Bryan, put out a statement announcing that it was taking over in Texas and claimed to have enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers to protest dozens of abortion clinics around the world.

“Following the state’s drastic cuts to funding for cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive health care, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was left with no other choice but to close the Bryan health center in July 2013.” Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said in a statement, though she didn’t address the clinic specifically.

The law was a doozy. It banned abortion after 20 weeks, limited access to prescription abortion drugs such as mifepristone, also know as RU-486, required doctors performing the procedure to have hospital-admitting privileges, and forced abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Planned Parenthood announced the Bryan clinic was closing hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the legislation, saying the nonprofit couldn’t afford to convert the clinic into an ambulatory surgical center.

Bryan is one of around 13 clinics that closed in Texas after the law passed. Several reopened in October after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked some provisions of the law finding that because some women seeking abortions would have to travel up to 150 miles, the law presented an “undue burden.” There are now around 16 clinics serving the state’s 900,000 women of reproductive age. A federal appeals court will hear the case in January, and it could head to the Supreme Court soon after that.

The antiabortion group 40 Days for Life says that “59 abortion centers have closed following 40 Days for Life campaigns outside their doors.” In a video, the organization boasted about its new digs, explaining that the headquarters in Bryan will be “a place that serves as a sign of what God can do at a local level.” In the video, the Planned Parenthood sign has been taken down and is lying on its side.

A press release announcing the takeover said the building will also house a memorial for “children lost to abortion inside the building” and stated that the organization will remove the fence around the property.