I’m writing this on an airplane. Gosh, is there anything Southwest Airlines can’t do (you know, besides guarantee you a decent seat)? I am heading up to Boston and will be there until Wednesday night. In other news…
For the first time in many, many years, the Houston Chronicle has broken a story that could very well be a political scandal. Patti Hart, one of the brightest spots in an otherwise dull publication, has reported that one of the Chief Lobbyists for the Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center interest group is Milla Perry Jones, the Governor’s sister.
As many may recall, the omnibus anti-abortion bill’s most potent restriction is requiring abortion clinics convert into “ambulatory surgical centers,” or “ASCs.” An ASC is more commonly referred to as an “outpatient surgical center,” comparable to a place where a colonoscopy is done. While it may seem like a commonsense idea, on its face, to require abortion clinics live up to said standards, the general medical community begs to disagree. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the legislation, saying they would set a “dangerous precedent.” Like Voter IDs, this solves a problem that simply does not exist.
The White men in the Texas GOP support the restrictions, and they seem to think they are better suited to make decisions about women’s bodies than women or their doctors. Accordingly, the ASC requirement may very well become law. This will cause, ceteris parabus, 37 of the 42 abortion-providing clinics in the State to close down. This presents a business opportunity, because according to the Chronicle article, there are 420 ASCs in the State, and evidently some of them are thinking about going into the elective abortion industry.
Enter the Governor’s sister. Milla Perry Jones is the Vice President for Government Affairs, a/k/a “Chief Lobbyist,” for United Surgical Partners International. The name is actually a misnomer, as it is a predominantly Texan organization based in Addison. The first line of the organization’s Wikipedia page states that it is “…one of the prominent leaders in ambulatory surgery…” In addition to this, Milla Perry Jones is on the Board of Directors of the Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center Society.
Rick Perry’s sister is most likely Conservative. Accordingly, I highly doubt that she will seek to personally turn a profit from turning ASCs she has a stake in into abortion clinics. However, the opportunity remains that she could profit from her brother’s legislation. That, in and of itself, is most disquieting.
I find it interesting that nobody else in Texas politics has made this connection until now. The Texas Observer had the info back in 2012, but never talked about it again during the SB5/HB2/SB1 flare up. Kudos to Hart.