Category: Uncategorized

Whole Woman’s Health Takes Texas to Court over HB 2.

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(Photo via Austin Chronicle).

The trial in our second challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional abortion restrictions will begin at 9AM CT (10AM EST) on Monday, August 4, 2014 in United States District Court in Austin.  We expect the trial to conclude on Thursday, August 7, 2014.

Whole Woman’s Health v Lakey is the second challenge to Texas’ House Bill 2 (HB2), sweeping anti-choice legislation that was passed last summer and has already shuttered clinics across the state and left women with extremely limited health care options. This lawsuit seeks to block the admitting privileges requirement specifically as it applies to Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso—two clinics that are among the last, if not the only, reproductive health care providers offering safe, legal abortion care in their communities. The second suit also seeks to strike HB2’s provision that every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), a provision scheduled to take effect in September 2014 that would leave fewer than 10 clinics in Texas and force many women to endure a roundtrip of more than a thousand miles or cross state lines to access safe and legal abortion services.

The trial will happen before Judge Lee Yeakel at the United States District Court in Austin at 501 West Fifth Street as it did with our first trial last October. Judge Yeakel will decide that morning whether electronic devices are allowed inside of the courtroom, though it’s likely they’ll only be allowed for taking notes and not for Internet access. 

Watch our Twitter feed for live updates on the trial as we get them, as well as our Facebook page and this blog for more as we fight back against this law with help from the Center for Reproductive Rights and others. #FightBackTX

Report: 46% of Texas Abortion Facilities Have Closed Between April 2013 and April 2014

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This GIF shows what House Bill 2 has done to access for women’s health and what it will do when September 1st comes (image courtesy of Mother Jones).

In a new report that is the first study done on the effects of House Bill 2 since it passed last year, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) has found that 46% of abortion facilities have closed statewide since June 2013. The study also found that the rate of abortion procedures in the state has also dropped by 13%, a significant decrease that is much steeper than any recent declines in abortion rates anywhere else in the nation. TxPEP surmises that this sharp decline is due to the decimation of abortion access in Texas overall:

The 13% decline in the state abortion rate over the past year, which corresponds to 9,200 fewer abortions annually, is steeper than recent declines in both Texas and the nation. The authors hypothesize that part of this reduction is due to the closure of clinics throughout the state, generally because of doctors’ inability to obtain hospital admitting privileges. Between April 2013 and April 2014, 46% of facilities providing abortion closed, leaving large areas of the state without a clinic. All of the clinics south of San Antonio have closed, and all but one have closed in West Texas.

Another part of TxPEP’s findings was an increase in the amount of Texas women who live 100 miles or more from the nearest abortion clinic. The number has gone from 217,000 women in May of 2013 to an astounding 1,020, 000 in April of 2014. The most shocking finding out of this information is that, after all clinics have to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center on September 1st and all but 6 clinics in the entire state will shut down, the number of women living 100 miles or more away from an abortion clinic in Texas will rise to 1, 335, 000.

Overall, the new report from TxPEP shows that access to abortion has decreased just as we predicted would happen when the study began last year. With the influx of women traveling long distances to the remaining open clinics and overloading the existing infrastructure that providers have, wait times, cost, and lack of enough funding force women into unwanted pregnancies. Many are faced with barriers to access already with the destruction of family planning budgets across the state, and as the number of clinics in Texas dwindle down to single digits, it’s no wonder that the rate of abortion procedures is following suit.

You can read the abstract on the study here, as well as an extremely in-depth analysis on the study here from RH Reality Check.

As the damage that House Bill 2 has inflicted on women in Texas becomes more and more apparent, Whole Woman’s Health will be here to advocate and care for these women in the facilities that remain open. You can donate to the Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates from us on how we’re helping women access safe, affordable abortion care.

WWH of San Antonio Now Offering Full Range of Gynecological Services

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As we get closer and closer to September 1st and the inevitable shuttering of all but six clinics in the entire state of Texas, we’re preparing to have women come to our clinic in San Antonio for many different services. We know that abortion is just one part of a full spectrum of healthcare that women need.

Starting this month, we’ll be offering annual pelvic exams, STI/STD testing, pap smears (and treatment for abnormal pap smears), contraception counseling, UTI and yeast infection treatment, IUD consultation and insertion, and other gynecological services. We offer a non-judgmental atmosphere and have open and honest conversations with our patients whether they’re a teenager, someone who is LGBTQ, or just nervous to talk about their personal health.

Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio is contracted with most major insurance carriers including United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana. We are also proud to offer extremely affordable prices for uninsured patients. We employ some of the most licensed, trained, and professional staff available to providers to bring you the best service. Call us to find out more about our pricing, discounts and availability.

We think birth control is for everyone.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy (left) was one of the five male Supreme Court Justices who sided with Hobby Lobby on Monday, saying that a corporation has the right to deny female employees birth control coverage due to the company’s “religious beliefs”. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (right) wrote a scorching dissenting opinion on the case’s decision, which was joined by the other three female justices of the court.

Recently the Supreme Court heard Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a case concerning a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required employers’ health insurance plans to offer contraceptive coverage for their employees. Hobby Lobby, who officially won the case yesterday, sued to be exempted from the provision due to the “deeply held religious beliefs” of their company that being required to offer birth control coverage to their employees is equivalent to abortion. It is important to note that Hobby Lobby’s 401K program invests in pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers that produce various forms of birth control – from the pill to emergency contraception to the IUD – as well as drugs used during procedures in abortion care.

The case deeply divided the court with the concurring side being all five male justices while the dissenting side was all four female justices. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in particular wrote a sharp dissenting opinion, saying that the court, she fears, “has ventured into a minefield.”

You can still obtain safe and accessible reproductive healthcare, including birth control, from any one of our locations across the nation in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Baltimore, or Minneapolis. Find our clinic locations here or call us for directions and pricing on what we offer. We welcome all into our doors with no judgement or shame for what you’re coming to us for.

A patient talks about her frustration with Texas politics

This is part of an ongoing collection of women’s stories in Whole Woman’s Health clinics that we will be posting all week. These women have all had to struggle and jump through different hoops as a result of the passage of House Bill 2 in July of 2013, and they deserve to have their stories told.

A patient called Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth (the closest clinic to her) to make an appointment for an abortion after recently finding out that she was pregnant. Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth did not have an appointment available for her within that week, and since the patient didn’t want to make the procedure more expensive by waiting for an appointment to open up, she drove to the next available clinic: Whole Woman’s Health of Austin.

After driving to Austin, she didn’t realize that she would have to wait 24 hours after her first appointment to have the procedure itself (the state of Texas requires women to undergo a sonogram and then wait 24 hours before they have an abortion). Had there not been an appointment for a procedure available for her the next day, she would have had to go back to Fort Worth and then come back to Austin for the next available appointment, forcing her to wait until a longer point in the pregnancy before she could get an abortion.

“It’s inconvenient,” she said. “It’s obvious [the Texas legislature] is trying to make it as difficult as possible.”

The patient didn’t realize there were so many restrictions just to have an abortion in Texas. After traveling from Fort Worth to Austin, having to undergo the 24-hour waiting period, and then unexpectedly staying in a hotel to have her procedure the next day, she was fed up with the red tape.

“How is this happening? Is nobody voting anymore?”

How is this happening

To read more personal stories and/or to speak up and have your voice heard about the harmful affects of House Bill 2, go to www.fightbacktx.com.

A Patient at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio Talks About Making Decisions for Herself

This is part of an ongoing collection of women’s stories in Whole Woman’s Health clinics that we will be posting all week. These women have all had to struggle and jump through different hoops as a result of the passage of House Bill 2 in July of 2013, and they deserve to have their stories told.

“Maybe it’s not about how you got here, but how you view and handle the situation.”

That was the epiphany that a patient at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio had while waiting to be seen by our physician for her abortion procedure. Her story, like many others’, starts out feeling uncertain, scared, and self-deprecating for choosing to not be pregnant at that point in her life. All of these feelings faded away as she deconstructed her own preconceived notions about abortion and realized that she is there because she was able to make a decision, one that she felt was best for her and the family that she’s already caring for.

An important part about being able to choose whether or not to have an abortion is an important factor of freedom of choice in general.

“I don’t think women experience abortion with just their uterus — they experience it with their emotions, their self-identities, their belief systems, and I think the religious right has latched onto that to attach stigma to it and utilize it as a method of control. Whatever your choice, you didn’t get pregnant to have an abortion or to be faced with that kind of decision. That’s the thing that we need to talk about. We have to live in a society where people are able to make choices for their own lives, and we have to have some empathy for that experience and not just the outcome.”

Amy Hagstrom Miller   |President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health|

This is what the patient said about her choice:

I wasn’t raised to believe in abortions. It’s considered a sin and I put myself in this position and I know I’ll probably regret this for the rest of my life. There are many people that don’t know and a few others that I’ve hurt in the process. I’ve lost the trust of my best friend and right now I don’t know how to amend this situation yet, but I feel that this is the best thing for me right now. I have two other children that I can barely provide for, that need all the attention I have left. Maybe it’s not about how you got here, but how you view and handle the situation. I am my own person and I’m living my life the best that I can right now. Right now, this is the best decision for my life and my future. 

04/18/14
[patient's name withheld]

To read more personal stories and/or to speak up and have your voice heard about the harmful affects of House Bill 2, go to www.fightbacktx.com.

Maybe it's not about how you got here

“They don’t have abortion clinics up there at all.”

This is part of an ongoing collection of women’s stories in Whole Woman’s Health clinics that we will be posting all week. These women have all had to struggle and jump through different hoops as a result of the passage of House Bill 2 in July of 2013, and they deserve to have their stories told.

“They don’t have abortion clinics up there at all,” said one of our patients at Whole Woman’s Health of Austin last week. She left her shift at a local casino in Lake Charles, LA and drove the 4.5 hours one way to Austin to get an abortion.

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After discovering she was 13 weeks pregnant, the patient decided that she wasn’t able to have another child, especially since she already has a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old that her mom had to watch while she drove to Austin for her procedure. Not only is she now part of the 1 in 3 women in the United States that will get an abortion, she is also part of the 60% of women that have abortions that also already have children.

Before March, this patient would have been able to access safe abortion care at Whole Woman’s Health of Beaumont, which is about an hour’s drive from Lake Charles and just west of the border between Louisiana and Texas. Since our Beaumont clinic is not able to meet the standards of an Ambulatory Surgical Center as laid out by House Bill 2, we had to close after serving the women of East Texas and surrounding Louisiana communities for almost 10 years with safe, compassionate abortion care.

The patient was able to get an appointment at Whole Woman’s Health of Austin quickly, though it’s unfortunate that she was forced to drive over 600 miles round-trip to obtain healthcare that she so desperately needed.

To read more personal stories and/or to speak up and have your voice heard about the harmful effects of House Bill 2, go to http://www.fightbacktx.com.