Yesterday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the provisions of House Bill 2 that have decimated abortion access in Texas to a mere 8 clinics for a state of over 26 million people. Last month, we were able to reopen our McAllen clinic after getting an injunction in our first trial, restoring access to the people of the Rio Grande Valley even if it was short-lived. MSNBC did a video segment on our clinic’s reopening and how important it was, and released it today after we were forced to shut our doors again. You can watch it here.
Our Corporate Vice President, Andrea Ferrigno, worked tirelessly to get the clinic back up and running again, and wrote a statement today on having to close the clinic again. Here is her statement:
Good morning, my name is Andrea Ferrigno and I am currently the Corporate Vice President with Whole Woman’s Health where I’ve worked for over a decade offering holistic abortion care. However, I have not always held this position. I actually began my career in Reproductive healthcare over 15 years ago working with a provider that offered obstetrics, gynecology and abortion care in the Rio Grande Valley for over 40 years where our clinic is located today. This location being a landmark for comprehensive healthcare is why I felt so thrilled about Judge Yeakel’s injunction nearly a month ago. I was passionate about returning to my community to personally facilitate re-opening our clinic that had to previously cease providing abortion services in October, 2013 – all direct byproducts of House Bill 2.
At that moment, it was and still is important to me to be on the ground to directly help women and families in the Rio Grande Valley access safe, professional abortion care.
The first day we reopen our doors in McAllen, we helped over 20 women; it was astounding to see the faces and hear individual stories of how they were connected to our clinic. How Whole Woman’s Health has remained a vital staple in that community. It was refreshing and inspiring for us to us to do our due diligence to keep providing the care that the valley so desperately needs and deserves. And every week since the injunction, nearly 30-40 women have visited our clinic in McAllen.
Seeing firsthand what HB2 has done, not only to our clinic, but to the women of the Rio Grande Valley and all of Texas is absolutely infuriating. I’ve worked directly with women from the valley for nearly a month and I hear their stories. I have explained the Texas laws to them through their confusion. They have acknowledged our staff and physicians and expressed appreciation for us continuing to fight for their health care options as well as remaining in their communities despite the legal interference.
What we have to remember is that even though 6 months ago HB2 shuttered our doors, it did nothing to take the need away. Texan women still sought abortion care yesterday- as they will continue to do today, tomorrow, and in the future no matter what community you are located in.
That is the reason why we, at Whole Woman’s Health, are committed to this fight.
I am so proud and honored to be able to work with a team of skilled staff, physicians, nurses, and volunteers who respect every woman’s experience, values, family and community. It’s a shame that our Texas politicians can’t do the same. In the end, it’s hurting thousands of Texans and perpetuating a cycle that eliminates empowerment and prevents women and their families from planning and choosing what is best for their lives, and this harassment has to stop
Thank you for the opportunity to share on behalf of the women that we serve.
“Today our hearts are broken on behalf of the women and families in Texas that have been left behind by this 5th circuit ruling. This afternoon, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the side of politics NOT women’s health. The courts left in place one of the most restrictive and harmful laws against women in the country. What we have been fearing is now official: Texas faces a health care crisis, brought on by its own legislators.
Less than two weeks after reopening our McAllen clinic following an injunction by Judge Yeakel, we are once again forced to cease providing abortion care services to the women who need us most. We are forced to suspend provision of abortion care in our Fort Worth clinic as well, where we were the only clinic open in that city since the law went into effect last November.
Politicians who were elected to ensure the safety and health of people in our state have turned their backs on the women and families who need us most. It’s bad enough that they are meddling in every woman’s decision about whether or not to become a parent, but it’s unconscionable that those who will bear the burden most are poor women and young women.
Let me speak directly to the people of Texas: Politicians may have closed our clinics, but Whole Woman’s Health is here for you. We are committed to supporting women and families in our state. We are committed to providing abortion in a caring, holistic environment.
We ask that you stand with us and stand united. Make no mistake—we are more determined, bolder, and stronger than ever. We will take whatever steps are necessary from here to preserve women’s access to safe abortion care in Texas.
As we continue this court battle, we will continue to remain open in our ASC in San Antonio. We will also be seeing patients soon in our Las Cruces, New Mexico clinic, which will serve the women of New Mexico, Mexico and now West Texas who lost a good clinic due to these onerous restrictions.”
You have four more days left to register to vote.
On September 27th, join Lady Parts Justice for their V to Shining V campaign as they host parties in every state across the US to call out anti-choice politicians for legislating against a woman’s right to access safe, legal abortion care! Lady Parts Justice was started by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Co-Producer, Lizz Winstead, and it has state-by-state videos for you to watch and learn about what anti-choice laws have been passing in your state and what you can do to stop them. Texas specifically has a “Wrecking Ball” parody with Lady Parts Justice’s very own uterus puppet, Eunice.
Here are five reasons to join (from Lady Parts Justice’s website):
2. Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.
3. Because extremist goon squads exist in EVERY statehouse in America and are sneaking in tons of creepy legislation. We’re staying on top of this shit so you can stay on top this shit.
4. Because you use birth control.
5. Because you like sex and it’s not all about having babies. Think about it, if it were there would be no room to stand.
Now, Lady Parts Justice is starting V to Shining V, a national party to make plans on how we’re going to take back what anti-choice legislators have taken from us in over 20 states across the country. Regardless of where you live, you can sign up to get a party kit of sweet V to Shining V gifts curated by Lizz Winstead herself to throw your own V to Shining V party with you and your friends!
Do you live in California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, or Wisconsin? Perfect. All of these states are hosting public parties with local comedians, musicians, and opportunities with statewide organizations to help you fight back.
Now, here’s where Whole Woman’s Health comes in: do you live in Texas, want to party with us, see some great entertainment, and take down these anti-choice politicians that we’ve been fighting against in court? Join us on September 27th from 7:30-9:30pm for the official Texas party at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress with local comedians Maggie Maye, Daniel Webb, Genevieve Van Cleve, Julie Gillis and musical guests Burgess Meredith (acoustic set), Magna Carda, Elizabeth McQueen, and Nakia.
Join us in any state you can for your own V to Shining V party, and if you’re in Texas, we’ll see you at Jo’s on September 27th!
On September 15th, we will open our doors to the women of New Mexico with a new clinic in Las Cruces. We will begin serving women not only from southern New Mexico, but also Juarez, Mexico and surrounding areas. The new health center will continue Whole Woman’s Health’s tradition of providing holistic, quality, woman-centered abortion care, counseling and education. This opening expands our company to a fourth state, joining clinics in Texas, Maryland, and Minnesota.
Whole Woman’s Health of New Mexico not only opens up access to abortion care in southern New Mexico and Juarez, but it also gives access to women in El Paso and the swaths of West Texas that have lost access to abortion care because of House Bill 2. We will be the only National Abortion Federation certified clinic in the area, and for New Mexico residents, we will be accepting state Medicaid. Since New Mexico has no TRAP laws on its books, we’re able to do same-day procedures at this facility as opposed to the 2-day procedures required in Texas, and we will go up to 18 weeks of pregnancy.
Today we also announced a full non-profit advocacy initiative that will work to change the national conversation and reduce the stigma surrounding abortion, and will educate people on the right that women have to safe, affordable abortion care in the United States. There’s no better organization for educating the public on how necessary abortion care is in a broad spectrum of reproductive healthcare.
We’re so excited to announce that we’re staying open at Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth and Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio after Judge Yeakel handed down his ruling on Friday invalidating the ASC requirements of House Bill 2 and the admitting privileges requirement as applied in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso/West Texas. We’re also announcing that Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen, after being shutdown in March, has reopened its doors to serve women in the Rio Grande Valley that have not had access to abortion care since House Bill 2 went into effect in November 2013.
Our model of care has not changed — we will still provide the safest, most affordable, and most holistic abortion care in all of our communities, all as we continue to fight back against House Bill 2.
Should you or someone you know need to make an appointment, have questions, or just need someone to talk to about options, feel free to call us at (877) 835-1090 or visit our website. Our doors, hearts, and minds are open to the women of Texas.
This morning, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas released a video with Progress Texas that contains audio clips of anti-choice groups at an activist training in Austin (“Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed”) admitting to using stalking techniques at abortion clinics to intimidate staff and patients alike. One official from Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, Karen Garnett, detailed the way in which they collect license plate numbers to keep track of who is coming in and out of the clinic.
“You track license plates coming into any abortion facility. We have a very sophisticated spreadsheet,” Garnett says. “This way you can track whether or not a client comes back.”
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned anti-choice activist Abby Johnson discussed how her group rooted through appraisal district records in the Austin area, discovering the location of an ASC where an Austin physician plans on moving his abortion care practice.
Johnson, who left her position as a clinic director in 2009 and became a poster child for the anti-choice movement, thinks that her and her colleagues’ shameful tactics have been effective in scaring abortion providers.
“We know where he will be moving if he loses the case,” says Johnson. “These abortionists are feeling the pressure from the pro-life movement in Texas. I think they feel like they’re on the run. And that’s how we want to keep it.”
As clinics shut their doors throughout Texas, anti-choice activists are honing in on the last remaining places that women are able to go for safe, legal abortion care. Not only do women have to conquer an uphill battle when trying to access care in their state, they now have to face harassment, stalking, and intimidation from so-called sidewalk counselors that want to force them into unwanted pregnancy.
Unfortunately, these tactics are not new. Anti-choice activists have a long history of violence and harassment directed at abortion providers. In a collection of data featured on the National Abortion Federation’s (NAF) clinic violence page, abortion providers have routinely faced incidents like murder, fire-bombing, extreme vandalism, bomb threats, and much more. You can view all reported clinics threats here, though NAF notes that the number of incidents is likely higher.
These tactics employed by the anti-choice movement are used as a means of forcing women to be unable to make decisions about their own bodies, families, and lives. The groups involved in “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed” may consider their tactics to be non-violent, but they are actively creating an environment in which harassment and intimidation are not only encouraged but are the norm, and it can validate actions that lead to potentially lethal consequences.
With extremely heavy hearts, we’re announcing today that Whole Woman’s Health of Austin is closing its doors days before our trial against House Bill 2 begins.
Austin was our flagship clinic, serving the community of Central Texas with the best abortion care available to women for over ten years. House Bill 2, which passed last summer, has forced us into yet another closure, this time because we’re unable to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center at this location.
Fortunately we’re still caring for women at Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth and, continuing after September 1st, at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio.
Here is our official statement to the public:
“We wanted to let you know that as of today, July 31, Whole Woman’s Health will close its Austin clinic doors.
“The closure today of Whole Woman’s Health of Austin is the result of politicians acting against women in our state when they passed HB2. They continue to be relentless in taking personal health decisions away from women by passing onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions,” commented Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO, Whole Woman’s Health.
This announcement comes just days before the August 4 trial date, when Whole Woman’s Health and other independent providers will challenge the onerous requirements of House Bill 2 (HB2) set to go into effect September 1, 2014 in the legal challenge Whole Woman’s Health vs. Lakey. The outcome of the trial will ultimately decide the fate of Whole Woman’s Health clinics around the state, with the exception of Whole Woman’s Surgical Center in San Antonio, which meets the requirements of HB2 and will remain open into the future.
“While Austin has stopped providing abortion care, our Fort Worth clinic remains open and we hold out hope that this trial will allow us to remain open and continue serving that community and possibly even reopen some of the WWH clinics that HB 2 forced us to close,” said Hagstrom Miller.”
You haven’t seen the last of us yet. We have a lot of things up our sleeve and the lawsuit next week is just the beginning.”
Join us on Monday as we continue to fight back against these painfully unnecessary, onerous, and destructive provisions that House Bill 2 has imposed on women and their healthcare providers in Texas.