Texas abortion clinic slated for closure is significant in pro-life history

Planned Parenthood Clinic Sign

It’s all coming together.

Youth March for Life in Washington, D.C. Photo by Sal Guerrero.

Youth March for Life in Washington, D.C. Photo by Sal Guerrero.

Even as the ink was drying on HB2 in Texas, when Gov. Rick Perry signed the hard-fought abortion bill into law, two things were happening:

  • Planned Parenthood was committing to continue its resolve to fight abortion restrictions.
  • Planned Parenthood announced the shutdown of three of its clinics – including one of its most infamous, the Bryan, TX abortion facility.

Ken S. Lambrecht, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas (PPGT), sent an e-mail yesterday to the PPGT e-mail list which noted that “Planned Parenthood will continue to do everything we can to help ensure that Texas women can always rely on us for the care they need.”


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On the same day, Planned Parenthood announced the closure of three of its clinics due to past Texas funding cuts to the abortion provider. In the case of the Bryan facility, it would have been slated for closure because of HB2’s requirement that it have an ambulatory care center in order to do abortions.

Instead of even attempting to do this, PPGT simply announced their closure. While this is excellent news for the pro-life community – and many babies – it’s a further demonstration of the value Planned Parenthood places on financial impact over life. Lambrecht’s letter concluded, “Thanks to your generosity and support, today our doors are open, and we’re exploring every option to ensure that Texas women continue to get the care they need.” The letter didn’t acknowledge the closings but did contain a prominent “Donate” link to ask for more money.

What makes the Bryan closing so significant is the center’s history in the Texas and national pro-life landscape. The Bryan clinic is famous for two historical pro-life markers. The first is that it is the birthplace of the 40 Days for Life campaign, which started “in 2004. It involved prayer, fasting, a 40-day prayer vigil outside the local Planned Parenthood business, and outreach, including a door-to-door information campaign that reached more than 25,000 households,” said an article from the North Carolina Register in 2007.

From there, the campaign spread and eventually grew nationwide. Now, in its twice-a-year campaign, 40 Days for Life sees successes across the nation, as many babies are saved each season.

More recently, it was in Bryan, Texas that former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson walked away from her job. The same doors out of which Johnson walked, in front of which many pro-lifers have prayed, often around the clock, are closing.

Karen Von Gonten is one of those who has stayed – outside the clinic in prayer. In response to yesterday’s announcement, Von Gonten, Bryan/College Station leader of the pro-life prayer group Bound4LIFE, said:

I rejoice at the announcement of Planned Parenthood’s closure of three clinics in Texas and feel privileged to have been part of a company of people who spoke out, hauled lots of kids to pray on the sidewalk, wept, and prayed even more to see abortion ended in our community. I believe that much good will come from the recent legislation that has been passed and today feel grateful to be a native Texan and lifelong resident of Bryan/College Station. Yet, I still feel the weight of the reality that abortion is merely a symptom of greater infirmity in our nation. The truth is, laws don’t change men’s or women’s hearts. And there is no person on the earth who will be able to bring true justice for the poor, pregnant teen who was raped or for her 9 week old baby she was forced to abort. So yes, I am thankful for the news today, but I will also continue to stand boldly, peacefully and prayerfully as a witness to the One who is the way, truth and life until He comes to bring justice for all who are oppressed.

Von Gonten and the teams of others in Bryan/College Station, TX have watched with awe as the Texas legislative session went from business as usual to business for babies. Gov. Perry, an outspoken advocate of life who has previously taken a stand in office – going as far as to call the Texas sonogram law “emergency legislation” that needed to be pushed through quickly to save lives, an announcement he made on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2011 – has made no apologies for his work to save the lives of the unborn.

Pro-life residents of Bryan, TX can look and see before their eyes the fruit of years of labor. Often there was a 24/7 40 Days for Life campaign happening, with pro-life prayer meetings from Bound4LIFE at the same time.


As Bound4LIFE group members prayed, 40 Days for Life members would walk up to the gate and the fence, stand on the edges of the driveway to remain legal, and peacefully reach out:


“Ma’am, can I give you this brochure? May I pray for you? Will you please consider another option?” In tandem, prayer and counseling, love for the mom, love for the baby, prayers for the city, prayers for the industry.

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And then. Not suddenly, really, but suddenly, it happened. From the beginning of 40 Days for Life and Bound4LIFE (which also, separately, was launched in 2004) to Johnson’s departure, to Perry’s action on life issues, to the awakening of Texas to the issue of life. Piece by piece, the puzzle came together. The fight was worth it. Lives were being saved. And then yesterday: a crucial clinic closing.

The pro-life efforts are working. They are pieces of a greater puzzle of life, matched by the efforts of prayer, legislation, private citizens working hard in their own arenas, and love for life. In moments like these, the corner of the puzzle gets filled with pieces, and the big picture begins to take shape – a reminder to never give up, because even when the completion is slow, it’s happening.

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