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Community Reacts To Planned Parenthood Closing Three Clinics Including Bryan

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BRYAN, TX *10 P.M. Update*

The bill that has been the flashpoint for debate on abortion in Texas for the last six months was signed into law Thursday by Governor Rick Perry.

It means abortions banned after 20 weeks and new restrictions on clinics.

On the same day the bill became law, Planned Parenthood announced in a surprise move it's closing clinics in Bryan, Huntsville, and Lufkin.

But Planned Parenthood says the closings are more related to cuts in its funding.

Only the center in Bryan provides abortion services.

News 3 spoke with people on both sides of the abortion issue and the divisive debate.

Many moods in town depending on who you ask.

Planned Parenthood and pro-choice supporters are disturbed by this major setback for them, while pro-life advocates are celebrating the end of abortions in Bryan.

The gates surrounding Planned Parenthood on East 29th Street in Bryan are closing for good next month.

The organization says it's feeling increased pressure from the Legislature and cuts in funding.

Katy Barber of College Station came to the clinic for birth control for the first time not knowing they had closed early for the day.

"My mom recently doesn't have her job, so I just now don't have insurance. So I either have to pay crazy out of pocket prices at a gynecologist or I can come here and they can help me out," said Barber.

Planned Parenthood officials tell us on average of everybody that comes through their doors about 90 percent are here for things like family planning and healthcare services.

Ten percent are for abortions.

Melany Linton is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

"Did you ever think this day would come here for Bryan?," asked News 3's Clay Falls.

"I never really did. You know, we opened this facility in 1999 and we have served thousands of women," said Linton.

Linton adds the political fight is far from over.

"Women and men are expecting us to stand up and fight for their access to basic health care," she said.

On the other side of the fence stood pro-life members.

The Coalition For Life was founded to oppose Planned Parenthood.

Bobby Reynoso is the Executive Director.

"The mentality that abortion is still acceptable is something that we can still work towards. And there is churches, schools, and community members who would like to make sure that abortion is never even an idea or concept but there is real solutions," said Reynoso.

There are 12 total employees being impacted in Bryan, Huntsville, and Lufkin.

But Planned Parenthood hopes they'll be able to re-assign them to other locations.

All three Texas facilities will close at the end of August.

Reynosa says there are many other facilities in this community which provide similar non abortion services where women can go for medical needs.

*6 P.M. Story*

A widely contested bill on the way abortion is handled in Texas is now law, cemented with the stoke of a pen.

What has arguably been the most watched and debated issue in our state's legislature in years has passed.

And that means a lot of changes locally.

It comes the same day as a surprise announcement from Planned Parenthood saying it would close three of its locations in Texas.

And that includes two in our area.

Abortion services will be stopped, as well as other women's health services, including free or low-cost medical screenings and counseling.

Planned Parenthood officials say the closure has less to do with the signing of the abortion bill, and more to do with the lack of funding from Medicaid.

But they say the political climate is also a factor.

Here's what we know so far.

Of all of the state's branches, a spokesperson with the organization says three of its locations will close at the end of next month.

The 29th Street branch in Bryan will shut down, as well as a wellness clinic in Huntsville, and one in Lufkin.

Only the Bryan location offered the surgical abortion service.

As you can imagine, we've got a lot of people who feel very strongly on this issue

Abortion advocates at Planned Parenthood call the announcement Thursday a heartbreaking decision while pro-life supporters are celebrating the end of abortions at this clinic in Bryan.

That also means the facility will no longer be offering other medical services.

Planned Parenthood says the majority of the work they do includes family planning exams, birth control, and cervical cancer screenings.

They also do STD testing, treatment and vaccines and even pregnancy testing.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's President and CEO Melaney Linton says the closures will limit access for poor and under served men and women.

"It's a heartbreaking decision to have to make but it's a practical one. We did not close any clinics in 2011 when we got the first major funding cut. Within about six months to a year of the announcement of that first major funding cut about 60 other family planning clinics closed down across Texas," explained Melaney Linton.

Meanwhile if you've ever driven by you've seen protestors outside including the Coalition For Life, which was formed in opposition of Planned Parenthood.

Here's what their Executive Director Bobby Reynoso had to say about the closure.

"Right now I think we are going to give thanks to God. Just go ahead and celebrate the moment, but also again have the real praying discussion as to what is the role for the Coalition for Life now that we've accomplished our goal," said Reynoso.

There are nine employees that work at this clinic in Bryan as well as another three between the Huntsville and Lufkin Health Centers.

Planned Parenthood tells News 3 they hope to find new jobs for them within the organization.

All three clinics will close at the end of August.

We will take you inside for a full tour of the facility and have more with both Planned Parenthood and the Coalition For Life at ten.


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