Athena Mason’s first doctor’s visit as a student at Texas A&M was a bit awkward. She had gone in for a basic checkup, but the physician noticed something else.
“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that," Mason said. "I’m like, 'it’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.' But I got a big lecture, [he said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go someplace else.”
That experience led her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But on August 1, that clinic closed. Mason now drives three hours to her hometown of Fort Worth to see a doctor. She knows she’s lucky to have that option.
Anti-abortion groups argue there are still plenty of doctors and clinics available to help women find a new provider. The group called Pro-Life Aggies ran a full page ad in the Texas A&M newspaper offering alternatives to the closed Planned Parenthood clinic. But many weren’t taking new patients. Or they didn’t deal with women’s health at all.
“There’s a long list of providers here in town," said [Bryan resident Cadence] King. "They consist of podiatrists and optometrists. And my eyes and my feet are fine.”