Despite State Senator Wendy Davis’ impressive 12-hour filibuster, the Texas legislature was able to push through new stringent abortion restrictions in special session. Under the provisions of SB5, doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and clinics must be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. Since only five of the forty-two clinics offering abortion services in Texas can meet those standards, without relief from a federal court, thirty-seven clinics will have to close their doors, or no longer offer abortions.
Governor Rick Perry has signed SB5, and it is now the law in Texas. But the stroke of Governor Perry’s pen did more than take away the freedom of many Texas women to plan their own families. It put the doctor-entrepreneur clients of his older sister, Milla Perry Jones, in a position to make millions.
Milla Perry Jones is Vice President of Government Relations of United Surgical Partners International, which runs surgery centers co-owned by doctors. She lobbies for doctor-owned clinics in Washington and Austin, and she teaches trade groups how to do the same. She is described in “Who’s Who in the Ambulatory Surgery Industry” as “a true advocate for the physician-owned healthcare model.” In fact, when Obamacare was first passed, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, one of the trade groups Milla Perry Jones worked with, sued Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over a provision that barred new doctor-owned medical facilities. The restriction was seen as a way to rein in healthcare costs, because services at doctor-owned clinics cost an average of 20% more than traditional clinics, since doctor-owners have a financial incentive to order more tests.
The suit was unsuccessful.
But now, her little brother the governor has put Milla in a position to capitalize on the abortion demand that is inevitable when 37 Texas clinics can no longer offer abortion services. The women who want to terminate and unwelcome pregnancy aren’t going to disappear. They are going to look elsewhere. Business-wise there will be quite an opportunity for the existing 420 Texas licensed ambulatory surgical clinics to consider adding abortion to their list of services. There will also be an opportunity for doctors to buy out the clinics that have to close at bargain basement rates, and update them to ambulatory surgical centers. Doctor-owners would also satisfy the admitting privileges problem. Abortions would still be available, just at new higher prices.
Governor Perry has said of the new licensing requirements that he “strongly supports protecting women’s health by raising the standard of care they receive .” We all thought that was code for “I’m going to end abortion by closing clinics.” I’m beginning to wonder if what Perry really meant by that was “I’m going to close the free clinics and those not-for-profit lefty places. If women are going to have abortions, I’m going to make sure they pay, and that the right people are making money off them.”
According to Huffington Post three Planned Parenthood clinics have already announced they will close. It will be interesting to see if they are bought out and re-opened under new doctor-owned management by associates of Milla Perry Jones. Keep your eyes on Texas. Things are so rarely what they seem.
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
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