The final two Rio Grande Valley abortion clinics closed their doors on Thursday.
The 400-mile-long expanse separating the borders of Houston and Louisiana once was home to clinics that served women living in the Texas area, the Associated Press reported. The latest closures in McAllen and Beaumont raise the number of clinics that have packed up shop and vacated to 19 since state legislators took on laws with tough abortion restrictions in 2013.
There are currently 24 clinics left in the state, but more closures are slated to take hold by the middle of this year.
Under the new law, medical practitioners who perform abortions must have admitting rights at hospitals nearby, while a second aspect of the legislation scales back significantly the doctor's ability to authorize and provide abortion-inducing drugs. Women in Texas who need an abortion must also make four visits to the clinic.
The measure also bars women from getting pregnancy terminations after 20 weeks.
The Beaumont and McAllen clinics couldn't stay open under those rules, CEO of Whole Woman's Health Amy Hagstrom Miller told the Associated Press.
"Closing our clinics hurts us," Miller stated during her speech at a media conference on Thursday. "We have done everything possible to keep our clinics open, but we are simply unable to survive."
State legislators argued that these regulations must be in place to protect women's health, but abortion-rights advocates have said the law is unconstitutional, and puts extraneous burden on women's access to pregnancy termination.
The next abortion clinic nearest Beaumont is located in Houston - nearly an hour and a half away. Women's health instructor Paula Saldana said many women in the valley who came from low-income backgrounds needed the clinic in McAllen badly.
"When women come up to me and they are in desperate circumstances and they ask where they can go, I will not have a place to send them," she told the Associated Press.