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The Brief: Aug. 20, 2015

Regulations on abortion clinics enacted in 2013 have sharply reduced the number of clinics in Texas, an approach to limiting access to abortion that a New York Times article suggests could serve as a template for many other states.

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The Big Conversation

Regulations on abortion clinics enacted in 2013 have sharply reduced the number of clinics in Texas, an approach to limiting access to abortion that a New York Times article suggests could serve as a template for many other states should those regulations survive a legal challenge.

The article notes that the number of clinics has dropped from 41 in 2012 to 17. That has led to women in many counties having to travel significantly longer distances to get to a clinic. Reporter Kim Soffen writes, "The average Texas county is now 111 miles from the nearest clinic, up from 72 miles in 2012. This is substantially higher than the national average outside Texas, 59 miles, and more than triple the average in deep red South Carolina, 36 miles."

Maps published to accompany the story show the impact of the new regulations is most acute in West Texas, where a band of counties stretching from the border with the Oklahoma panhandle south to the border with Mexico are all more than 200 miles from the nearest abortion clinic.

Other maps show the increased cost of an abortion in Texas as a result of the new regulations. Here as well the highest costs are concentrated in the western part of the state.

If the Supreme Court upholds Texas' restrictions, this approach to limiting access to abortions is almost sure to be followed elsewhere. "Mississippi, Louisiana and 26 other states have also passed ambulatory surgical center or admitting privileges regulations," Soffen writes, "and more are expected to raise the issues in their next legislative sessions."

Trib Must-Reads

State Disabled Worker Program Faces Overhaul, by Aman Batheja — A controversial program that forces state agencies to spend millions buying goods and services from companies that hire disabled workers while sidestepping competitive bidding rules is about to undergo some big changes.

Luckless at Capitol, Minimum Wage Advocates Go Local, by Alexa Ura — After years of failed proposals in the Texas Legislature to raise the minimum wage, organizers and advocates for higher wages are turning to local governments to raise minimum wages.

A Different Rick Perry at the Iowa State Fair, by Abby Livingston — Grilling pork in a red apron and orthopedic shoes, the 2015 Rick Perry is a different candidate than the one who blew into the Iowa State Fair four years ago as a frontrunner on a short-lived campaign sugar high.

Court: Houston Anti-Discrimination Law Needs Voter OK, by Alexa Ura — The Houston City Council used the wrong language when it put the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO, on the November election ballot, Texas Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Today's 31 Days, 31 Ways Story

Foster Care Youth Getting State Ombudsman, by Terri Langford — Starting Sept. 1, children in Texas foster care will get an ombudsman to help them navigate the system, find their caseworkers and report complaints.

Elsewhere

Paxton’s office re-enters dark money fray, San Antonio Express-News

First-time Texas drug felons to be eligible for food stamps again, Houston Chronicle

Texas Judge Considers Penalty For Obama Immigration Permits, Bloomberg

Cruz, Trump in Secret Talks, The Daily Beast

Donald Trump sets new immigration litmus test, Politico

Conservative Iowa radio host Deace endorses Cruz, The Hill

Four years later, Rick Perry has much less buzz in Iowa, The Dallas Morning News

Trustee says HCC land deal broke law, calls for chancellor's resignation, Houston Chronicle

Texas Racing Commission’s budget deadline threatening racetracks, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“The American people often disagree on what the best approach should be to fixing the immigration system. But we have veered off now into a rhetorical targeting of immigrants themselves. The use of language such as ‘anchor babies’ is disgusting.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, to Politico on the choice by some GOP presidential candidates to call for the end of birthright citizenship

Trib Events for the Calendar

•      The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin 

•      A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

•      The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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