One Year after TX Trigger Law, Where Can Sharpstown Women with Crisis Pregnancies Go?

One Year after TX Trigger Law, Where Can Sharpstown Women with Crisis Pregnancies Go?
The empty suite where the Women's Center of Houston used to be.

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Google Maps says that the Women’s Center of Houston on 8200 Wednesbury is still open. It’s not.

The OB/GYN clinic operated in Suite 230 of the squat, four-story Southwest Professional Plaza since 2013. The former owner, Dr. Yury Nosaville, said that he delivered 11,954 babies in his career and performed a “low volume” of abortions compared to other providers: “Women’s Clinic of Houston—they had big volume: ten, maybe fifteen, a day. I had maybe one to two [per day], and not every day.”

But on June 20, almost one year after the historic Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson, the Women’s Center was just an empty suite with three packages of OB/GYN materials abandoned outside the glass door.

According to Dr. Nosaville, the clinic closed on December 29, 2022, because his lease was expiring and he wanted to retire, not because of the court decision. But his clinic received “lots of phone calls” from women seeking abortions: “We had to tell them that in the state of Texas, it’s not available.”

The office plaza that used to contain the Women's Center of Houston.

Six months earlier, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing individual states to decide whether to ban abortion. A Texas “trigger law,” already on the books, took effect on August 25, 2022, making it a felony to perform an abortion.

That’s why the local Planned Parenthood in nearby Gulfton claims (on their website) to only offer abortion referrals. The staff on site declined to be interviewed.

With the Women’s Center of Houston closed and Planned Parenthood restricted, where can Sharpstown-area women with crisis pregnancies go?

Well, they still have the Women’s Pregnancy Center on 10103 Fondren Rd.

It sits in the Brays Oaks Towers, one mile south of Sharpstown. Don’t confuse it with the Women’s Center of Houston (even though the WPC's suite happens to be numbered 230 too). Unlike the WCH, the WPC is still running, open by appointment Mondays-Thursdays, 10:00-3:00, and Saturdays, 9:00-12:00.

The Women's Pregnancy Center has never offered abortions or abortion referrals. Instead, it offers a variety of free services to women who are pregnant, were pregnant, or think they are.

For one, the center offers free pregnancy tests. If a test is negative, the woman and her partner can get free STD testing.

If a test is positive, the expectant mother can take free motherhood classes to earn points for the “baby boutique,” stocked with maternity dresses, baby clothes, formula, baby food, and more. For example, a one-day class earns ten points, which can “buy” ten dozen diapers.

If a client isn't already under doctor's care, she can also receive a free ultrasound at the WPC if her pregnancy is between seven and seventeen weeks.

The office building that contains the Women's Pregnancy Center.

But the center doesn't just provide material assistance. Karen Vannaman, head of the Ongoing Support division, said, "A lot of times, what [clients] need to do is just sit down and talk to somebody... Just having a listening ear is one of the big important things."

If clients wish, advocates will also meet with them regularly for "life direction" after the clients give birth.

Or, if a woman visits the center after having an abortion, the WPC offers one-on-one sessions for "post-abortion healing."

Executive director Stefanie Derrick was clear that the WPC is not a clinic: it doesn’t have licensed medical staff. Instead, it’s a crisis pregnancy center. It exists to support women with a variety of resources that they might not find elsewhere (or might otherwise have to pay for).

A similar organization, Hannah’s Heart of Hope Women’s Center, used to be located in an office building at 3707 Westcenter Drive in Westchase. Google Maps says it’s still there, but again, Google Maps is wrong.

The founder, Overzenia Ojuri (also a public defender), said that when the office building changed owners in 2019, the new owners didn’t want her center there. She wants to find a new location in southwest Houston, preferably Alief, but she's still looking for an affordably priced office.

In the meantime, she said, women who need help can text Hannah’s Heart at 281-300-3849 with their name, needs, due date, and their baby’s gender. Even without a physical office location, she still said she does ultrasound referrals and holds an annual crib and mattress giveaway.

Both Hannah’s Heart and the Women’s Pregnancy Center are Christian nonprofits. They approach crisis pregnancy situations from the perspective that “life is very precious,” to use Derrick’s words. That includes the lives of unborn babies.

Derrick said that some clients want to abort but change their minds once they see their ultrasounds: one client told her, “The baby’s heartbeat just poured into my soul.”

In 2022, twenty-two clients said they originally favored abortion but decided to keep their babies after visiting the center, according to statistics provided by the WPC's data analyst, Lorena Villatoro.

But most of the WPC's clients have one thing in common: they already want to keep their babies. They just want help with the stress and challenges of being expectant mothers.

According to the WPC's statistics, out of 546 clients who visited the center in 2022, 418 already planned to carry their babies to term. Forty-six came in planning to abort, and the remaining eighty-two turned out to not be pregnant.

Since 2022 was the year of Dobbs, one might expect a surge in clients, especially abortion-minded clients. But according to Vannaman, who has served at the center since 1986, not much has changed. Lately, more clients have been requesting material assistance, but Vannaman also attributes that to inflation and COVID.

Why so little change? Perhaps it’s because, in the local population the WPC serves, so many women already want their babies.

But some of them are what Derrick calls "abortion vulnerable," meaning that despite the clients' desires, circumstances may tip them toward choosing abortion. That's one reason why the center comes alongside them with education and resources.

"The first client I ever saw back in 2006 had eight previous abortions because none of the boyfriends would stick around and help," said Derrick. "She decided to keep her ninth pregnancy only based on a boyfriend’s promise... Her decision to parent was extremely vulnerable to changing."

The boyfriend eventually left her anyway. But Derrick said that when the client had her kid, she was "happy to be a mom."

Next week, take a tour inside the Women's Pregnancy Center and hear the story of a former client, interviewed by reporter Kelly Miller.

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Tyess Korsmo

Assistant Investigators

Katlyn McGrath, Debbie Korsmo