Photo credit: CollabnArt
Recently, the Austin Chronicle had its annual Best of Austin contest where readers and critics submit their favorite things about Austin, from best restroom and best composer to best laundromat and best legislative moment (Wendy Davis!). We were very excited that the coalition we are a part of, Stand with Texas Women, came in first for best grassroots movement. Here’s the synopsis:
The bumper sticker goes, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Perhaps that’s why so many of those standing with Texas women didn’t mind being called an “unruly mob.” When the powers that be refused to listen to an outpouring of public testimony against the sweeping abortion restrictions bill, there was little left to do than to stop playing by the rules. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, singing to the crowd at the movement’s largest rally, may have said it best. Whether behind the scenes or in front of the Capitol, the feminist army was “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
It’s invaluable knowing that, in the midst of all of our contingency planning and preparing for what’s ahead in HB2′s implementation, the movement lives on outside of the walls of the Capitol. That’s why this award goes out to all of those that wore orange this summer and spent hours upon hours blogging, tweeting, protesting, eating the food and drinks that were brought to us from local businesses, and stood on the front steps of the capitol on that late night when HB2 passed out of the Senate. You won this award.
You may recall when we posted about one of our clinic doctors resigning in August, not even a month after HB2 had passed and we learned that we needed to have hospital admitting privileges by the end of October. That was obviously a terrible event and it was one of the main reasons that we wanted to share our journey with you on this blog, but it has also taught us that when one door closes, two more open.
This week we’ve been approached by two physicians that used to work for us in the past but had since gone on to open up their own practices. Both of these physicians are highly-trained, professional, and want to come back to Whole Woman’s Health to help us keep our doors open in Texas. Obviously, we’re welcoming them with open arms.
On Friday last week, we hosted an employee pot luck in our HQ in Austin to go over where our company is going at the moment and to hold a Q & A with our founder and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller. Employees were given the opportunity to ask questions about what was happening with our company and what Amy thought might happen in the future. She gave updates, speculation, and lifted a great deal off of all of our shoulders. We’ve come back to work this week with a renewed sense of drive to keep delivering the compassionate care to women that we always have.
Amy also gave us a word of advice at the end of the potluck: “No matter how bad things get, you’ve always got to remember to have a sense of humor. No matter what.”
As you well know, these past few months have been full of ups and downs for us here at Whole Woman’s Health. While many people have jumped onto the advocacy train, as we have ourselves, we’re also focusing on simply being able to keep our doors open. We’ve been looking at Hospital Admitting Privileges, specifically, and how we can get them for all of our doctors in Texas, and after that our main focus will be what we can do about the ASC law that’s set to go into effect in September next year. We’ve had some breakthroughs with the admitting privileges, and we’re excited to see that there is so much support for us from the Texas medical community.
On the legal side, we’re planning a lawsuit with other organizations that will hopefully be announced sometime in September. We know that it’s going to be a long process, but we think we stand a worthy chance. HB2 will not pass into law without a fight from us.
Now, let’s get to the fun stuff: starting at the end of September, we’re going to start having a monthly event with The Vagina Zine at Cheer Up Charlie’s. More announcements coming soon with that, including raffle prizes, a movie, and more.
57 days left, and things are moving faster and faster.
For the past two days, folks have been able to show their disdain once again for HB2 in front of the Department of State Health Services Committee Council. During these meetings, they were discussing amendments and the overall implementation of HB2, and they allowed for public comment during these discussions. Though the council made it very clear that they could not offer grandfather clauses for abortion clinics, they would take these comments into consideration. During the meetings, the public comments from people that are against HB2 had a huge impact:
All 8 Governor Perry-appointed DSHS committee council members refused to vote to second the rules on HB2. Though this does not stop the bill’s implementation, this symbolic move is unprecedented, with all 8 of them showing their disapproval of a bill for the first time in history. For more on this, read local blogger Jessica Luther’s post on the hearings.
61 days left, and even the DSHS committee council can’t bring themselves to think HB2 is good for Texas.
Our Founder and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, had the privilege of participating in a panel last night with Heather Busby of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Christian Cabazos of YWCA Greater Austin, Amelia Long of The Lilith Fund, and Paula X. Rojas of Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana. The panel served as a great discussion of what’s coming with House Bill 2, when the lawsuit will be announced, and what it means when physicians are required to have hospital admitting privileges. Though there wasn’t time to answer everyone’s questions, the overall atmosphere was upbeat, productive, and it seemed that the discussion helped many people find peace of mind.
These Stand with Texas Women events will continue throughout the week with an even tonight in Fort Worth and an event in Dallas on Thursday. If you’re in Austin tomorrow or on Thursday, you can also participate in a public hearing with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) where they will be considering amendments to House Bill 2. These public hearings are a great opportunity for us to go directly to who will be enforcing the law and tell them why this bill needs to be reconsidered.
63 days left and this movement is stronger than ever.
As we’re sure anyone can imagine, we’ve had to make many tactical decisions and longterm plans since the passage of House Bill 2, all of them proving to be very difficult. In making these decisions, we’ve seen some progress this past week, with breakthroughs for us as a business and the prime healthcare that we bring to women everyday.
One of the most important breakthroughs we’ve had has been the discovery that there are people in healthcare that are stepping up and standing for Texas women even in light of bad legislation. Last week, we trained a new MD in one of our clinics and they quickly showed us that the passion, the professionalism, and the access to reproductive healthcare and abortion cannot be undone so easily. We look forward to this MD’s incredible work as we move forward with more and more momentum.
As one of our patients said in their evaluation this weekend: “I’ve never been to a clinic that made me feel this safe and welcome. You made it so that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.”
No matter the outcome of what happens to our clinics in Texas, we know that we will always work to eradicate the stigma surrounding abortion in Texas and around the country, one woman at a time.
It’s Sunday, August 25th, and we have 65 days left.
In Texas and other states, anti-choice activists will try and trick women seeking abortion care into carrying their pregnancies to term. To do this, they often lead them to a fake clinic called a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).
CPCs are funded primarily through anti-choice license plates sold by the State of Texas, but some have even received federal funding as of July, 2006. These places often offer pregnancy tests on site, and if the test comes out positive, they will use coercive and deceptive tactics to convince women to continue the pregnancy rather than discussing all options. They typically oppose the use of birth control and condoms, give false information about the effectiveness of those methods, and will preach that abstinence is the best option even for someone who is already pregnant. Most Crisis Pregnancy Centers are religiously affiliated and are operated by massive anti-choice organizations like Care Net, Heartbeat International, Birthright International, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA).
If you or someone you know is seeking an abortion, always make sure and check that the clinic you are going to is an abortion facility and not a CPC. Even if you search for abortion on Google, you are likely going to see ads for “free pregnancy tests” that are coming from CPCs right next to the ads for actual licensed abortion clinics. To help you make sure that the place you’re going is not going to mislead you, we’ve created an interactive map to outline where these CPCs are in Texas:
Did we leave one out? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it in!
Want to know what’s going on in Texas in the aftermath of House Bill 2 in this year’s special session? We joined forces with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to bring you this infographic that should help in answering most of your questions.
Because of this bill, we have 72 days to comply with three of the four restrictions that it poses. Follow us as we move forward.
Yesterday, we received a letter of resignation from one of our clinic doctors:
“Thank you so much for fighting the good fight. A big part of me is sorry I’m not in there with you but I have to do what’s right for me at this point.”
“I have loved my work with WWH and have found it extremely fulfilling. I have also loved working for you.”
“I am also worried about the uncertainty of my employment status in Texas. Will I get admitting rights? Will the government pull something else that makes it impossible for me to work there? Will the clinic close despite everyone’s best efforts?”
Like so many physicians in Texas that perform abortions, our doctors are understandably worried about their employment and the future of their field in the Lone Star State in general. As Whole Woman’s Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller put it, “Legislative and organizational uncertainty led to us losing a talented, young physician to another state.”
To settle the questions about the future of our company would require providing a clear and concise answer about what exactly we plan on doing. We cannot offer this; even we don’t know what the end results of these efforts will be.
We truly hope that this is the last time we lose another staff member because of their being no perceivable light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, our focus is contingency planning and combatting the bad parts of this bill.
77 days left.