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Texans Honor Roe Anniversary with Promise to Fight Back

On Friday, January 22nd, Whole Woman’s Health, along with our Texas coalition partners, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, the Texas Research Institute, the Texas Freedom Network, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, ACLU of Texas, Shift, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, honored the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a rally to support the upcoming Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (formerly Cole) and to kick off the Fight Back Texas 2016 Truth Tour!

Just like the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a fight that started in Texas and is set to hit the national stage (although we’ve been in the national spotlight since the Wendy Davis filibuster). This case will transform the way abortion is accessed in the United States by either blocking unjust laws, or opening the floodgates for them to spread state-by-state.

The disastrous impact of HB2 is more than theoretical. It is intimately felt in our communities, our neighborhoods, and in our homes. The Fight Back Texas Truth Tour will be visiting these communities over the next few weeks to shine a bright light on those voices and to reaffirm our pledge to fight back against laws that do nothing more than remove a person’s ability to determine the course of their life.

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So, what better day to launch the Truth Tour than the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade!? We were joined on that chilly (some would say it was straight up frigid) afternoon at the Texas State Capitol with rally MC, Lizz Winstead and some of the most vocal, steadfast abortion rights supporters in Texas.

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Photo-20160124165834284.jpgPlanned Parenthood Texas Votes – partners in the fight against HB2!

 

Photo-20160124165834416.jpgAmanda Williams, first ever executive director for the Lilith Fund of Reproductive Equity, giving an interview before the rally starts.

 

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“This is what a wall of choice looks like!” Rally MC Lizz Winstead, Daily Show co-founder and creator of Lady Parts Justice!

 

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Don’t let those blue skies fool you, it was coooooooold!

 

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“We must all stand together.” Senator Kirk Watson, a driving force behind the Wendy Davis filibuster (who also stood the entire duration) and vocal abortion-rights supporter, was the second speaker to take the stage.

 

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“Some lawmakers at the Capital work session after session to strip away our rights. These legislators pander to a vocal minority. They are working against your interests.” TX State Representative Donna Howard.

 

Photo-20160124165834674.jpg“I want to help break the cycle of abortion stigma.” President of the UT student chapter of the Texas Freedom Network.

 

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“I let them know that we are here w/out judgment despite whatever law is in place. Every day we hear their stories and try to give them a voice that this decision is ok for them to make. In the end these laws are only hurting thousands of Texans and perpetuating a cycle that takes away decisions for women.” Marva Sadler, director of clinical services for Whole Woman’s Health.

 

Photo-20160124165834775.jpg“Y’all, the Hyde Amendment should have never been passed.” So much truth coming from Sofia Peña of La Frontera Fund!

 

Photo-20160124165834826.jpg“El Pueblo undo, jamás cera vencido!” Lucy Felix, NLIRH.

 

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“At Whole Woman’s Health our clinic staff and doctor’s care for women across Texas who have faced significant barriers accessing the abortion care they need, and that lack of access is only going to get worse unless we get intervention from the Supreme Court. Women need care in their local communities; no matter where they live, or what their status is, women deserve to have the option to go to a local clinic they trust.” Amy Hagstrom Miller, president & CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.

 

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Amy Hagstrom Miller posing with members of the El Paso urge chapter! Over 30 drove the distance to show their support in person at the rally!
Thanks again to everyone who came out for the rally! You can continue to show your support for the fight against HB2! Text ‘Fight Back’ to 97779 or click here to sign the pledge and stay tuned for more informaton regarding the Truth Tour!

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Two Letters of Support

Last week we received the following letters from two of our patients. These letters are a reminder to all of us that how you provide care is just as important as the service itself.

Letter #1

Dear Whole Woman’s Health,

We have been here twice this year in sadness (terminating for medical reasons). I always meant to send you a card last time, so here it finally is.

Thank you for being here and helping us care for our family as best we can. Thank you for being here for all women, regardless of circumstance. Thank you for your work despite the fear and intimidation.

We appreciate every one of you so much. Thanks for your courage, care and compassion. We stand with you.

 

Letter #2

Dear Whole Woman’s Health,

In a world that judges your decisions, mistakes, and path you choose to recover from them – I was so happy to be around a whole staff of women who seemed to get it. From making an appointment, walking in, and leaving out, I felt a sense of sisterhood that movies are made of. I felt like I had people on my side no matter what I decided was best for me. They were nonjudgmental and there to support whatever decision I made with information and know-how.

I never once felt awkward or as if I should second guess myself. I never once felt unsafe or unsure. I felt that I would be taken care of from start to finish and I could always call back if I was confused or needed help with anything. I would refer a loved one, friend, or stranger with the confidence of knowing they would walk away satisfied from the service they received.

 

Whole Woman's Health Supreme Court

Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller: “Today, my heart is filled with hope”

Hello, My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. We are the lead plaintiff in this case. I own and operate 8 high quality independent abortion care clinics in 5 states – Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Maryland.

Today is an exciting day for Whole Woman’s Health. We have been fighting this draconian law since 2013. After a series of appeals and emergency injunctions, here we are today, having heard from the highest court of the land that they will hear our case. I want to thank the Center for Reproductive Rights for continuing to partner with our organization in our continued fight to stand up for the reproductive rights for the women of Texas.

Today, my heart is filled with hope. Although this is the first step in a much longer process, I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the rights that have been in place for four decades and reaffirm that every woman should be able to make her own decision about continuing or ending a pregnancy. I have hope for my staff members, who, for years, have poured themselves into providing Texas women with high-quality and comprehensive reproductive health care. And most of all, I have hope for the families and communities all across Texas who now may be able to get the safe and comprehensive care they need from a clinic they trust.

This law is causing real harm to women across the state of Texas, and has been since 2013 – it’s creating higher costs, longer delays, and extra steps for women seeking abortion care, and in the process punishing women for their decision to exercise their constitutional right to end a pregnancy. A woman should be able to access the safe and legal abortion services she needs regardless of her zip code.

By forcing clinics to close, Texas legislators have multiplied the barriers women face when they need an abortion. Texas women are forced to go to multiple and unnecessary visits at clinics that are now farther away, take more days off of work, losing income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation for hundreds of miles. For many women, the process of obtaining safe and legal health care has simply become unfeasible. No one should be denied safe and compassionate care based on her zip code, but that’s exactly what this law does. Legislators are effectively forcing these women to carry their pregnancies to term against their will.

Take for example a woman from Lubbock. Prior to HB 2, her community had a clinic. With the enactment of HB 2, she faced a 230 mile, 4.5 hour trip – EACH WAY – just to get a first trimester abortion. She was a working, single mother of 3 without healthcare. She faced layers of barriers – including find gas money for the drive and child care for the day she would be away. In the end she was pushed into the later second trimester and finally was unable to obtain the abortion she wanted.

Or take for another example a woman who visited our McAllen clinic on the Texas-Mexico border. Unfortunately she was scheduled for an appointment the day after HB 2 first went into effect. After HB 2 her appointment was immediately canceled. She was devastated by the absurdity of this law – noting immediately that if she had come just yesterday the same MD and staff would have been able to help her. She reached out to our hotline and said: “I will terminate this pregnancy. So how about I tell you what I have in my cupboards, under my sink and in my medicine cabinet and you tell me what to use and how to use it in order to do my own abortion.”

It’s stunning to hear stories like these, but that is exactly what is at stake. If the Supreme Court does not stop this deceptive, politically driven law we will hear more stories like these.

In 2003, Whole Woman’s Health made a commitment to provide quality and holistic reproductive health care in Texas. This is a commitment we intend to keep. To the women of Texas: Now, more than ever, we are here for you. We have been betrayed by legislators and vilified by anti-choice extremists, but we are still here for you, and are confident that justice will be on our side.  We are honored to stand up for Texas women and families and bring this case to the highest court in the land.

Amy Hagstrom Miller
President & CEO of Whole Woman’s Health

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30 GIFs that summarize our feelings as we wait for SCOTUS to announce if they will hear our case.

As many are aware, we have spent the last few years ping-ponging back and forth between local courts and the regional Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals fighting against the onerous HB2. Currently many abortion clinics in Texas are only open through the grace of the Supreme Court, who placed a hold on select provisions of the law. This has prevented the provisions from taking effect and has also lead to a TRAP purgatory of sorts – one in which we are both thankful for the ability to care for our patients but also spend our days in uncertainty.

Last month we petitioned SCOTUS to set a date and end this battle. On behalf of clinics in besieged states across the US, we want to know what specifically constitutes as undue burden and why aren’t lawmakers required to provide factual evidence to support their claim that these laws preserve the ‘health and safety of women’ when all research points to the contrary.

Any day now we are expecting to hear from the Supreme Court as to whether they will take our case, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole. If they do and we win – states would no longer be able to pass legislation requiring clinics and people seeking abortion care to jump through flaming hoops of bullsh*t nonsense in order to provide and access healthcare.

If the Supreme Court announces that they do not wish to hear the case, or if they do hear the case and we lose, the laws would go into effect immediately in Texas, forcing all but a handful of clinics to shut down and we would see an immediate tidal wave of similar, possibly more restrictive anti-abortion laws flood the rest of the country.

These options would majorly change how abortion care is provided and accessed in this country, and here at Whole Woman’s Health we are definitely feeling that pressure.

We’ve bitten our nails down to the bone over the last week, knowing that each day could bring a potential announcement.

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At work, it’s difficult to focus..

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Everything feels like such a struggle.

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We hate to admit it, but sometimes it’s just hard to keep it together.

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We find ourselves obsessively refreshing the SCOTUS blog for updates.

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It’s hard not to feel like this little duck family – they just want to cross the street and we just want to provide constitutionally protected, essential health care services.

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But until the decision to hear our case is announced, we will continue to float in metaphorical space just like this astronaut dog floating in actual space.

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And if SCOTUS chooses not to hear our case, forcing mass clinic shutdowns and a resulting wave of harmful trap laws this will basically be us:

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But they wouldn’t… they have to take the case… right?

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It would be silly not to. There is too much at stake, obviously.

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But seriously, the suspense.

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And the anti-choice arguments that these restrictions are to protect health and safety of women is total garbage just doesn’t cut it when you stack up the evidence.

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It’s exhausting – explaining to people that fancy buzz words that look good on paper, like ‘ambulatory surgical center’ and ‘admitting privileges’ actually decrease the quality of care and make it more difficult to operate.

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But if the announcement is made that we’ll be going to the highest court in the land, you can be confident that we’ll bring our Cookie-approved A-game to DC.

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And if we win, we’ll have a hard time holding in our excitement.

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Until then we’ll be crossing our fingers that a hopeful announcement will come in the next few days..

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BREAKING: WWH Asks the U.S. Supreme Court to Take On HB2

Today Whole Woman’s Health is taking the next step in fighting HB2 in Texas.

With the help of the Center For Reproductive Rights, we asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a June 2015 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – a ruling which upheld a law that would close more than 75 percent of abortion clinics in Texas. This filing will ask the Court to formally review the case to permanently block enforcement of the two most harmful components of HB2 – the ambulatory surgical center (ASC) provision and admitting privileges.

Below is the official Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health:

“It’s been a long and arduous road to get to today’s filing, but that’s nothing compared to the obstacles that Texas women seeking reproductive health services will face if the Supreme Court of the United States denies our request and allows HB2 to fully go into effect.

By passing HB2, lawmakers forced us to permanently close our clinics in Beaumont and Austin. While our Fort Worth and McAllen clinics are currently open, they have both had to close at various points over the last two years, leading to financial strain and overall confusion–some women even questioning if abortion is still LEGAL in the state of Texas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these restrictions have nothing to do with protecting women and everything to do with closing down clinics and pushing abortion care out of reach. When politicians force clinics to close, they multiply the devastating albeit unnecessary hurdles that Texas women must overcome when seeking reproductive health care.

Our ability to get safe medical care should not depend on whether we have the resources necessary to navigate a horrific and complex obstacle course dreamt up by anti-choice lawmakers. This is the real world and these laws have real implications on real women’s lives.

We’re hopeful that the Supreme Court will take a stand, hear our case, and remind lawmakers that women’s health is not a game.“

Bring it on. We're headed to the Supreme Court to put an end to clinic shutdown laws once and for all.
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Thank you for making me excited to be an abortion provider

It is a founding vision of ours to utilize healthcare as a venue for positively changing the way women and people experience themselves in the world. Just one of the ways we do this is by providing training opportunities for medical students and physicians who are interested in including abortion care in their practice (often with the help of groups like the Midwest Access Project or Medical Students for Choice).

Our Twin Cities clinic, located in downtown Minneapolis, MN is one such training venue. Recently we had the opportunity to host a fourth-year medical student who left us the following note that pretty much sums up why compassionate abortion care and these training opportunities are so valuable.

Dear Whole Woman’s Health of the Twin Cities,

Thank you so much for having me in the clinic this month. You immediately made me feel welcome and you taught me more about caring for patients than I have learned on any of my other rotations in medical school. Before coming here, I had never seen respectful and compassionate abortion care. This clinic exceeded my expectations. You treat even the most difficult patients with empathy and accommodation, which is so unusual in the medical field.

I am so grateful for your willingness to teach and your patience as I learned. Thank you for making me excited to be an abortion provider, to work in a clinic like Whole Woman’s Health, to work with people like you. I hope our paths cross again.

With <3

In the Texas State Capitol Dome or Statehouse Building

Our Statement on Today’s Texas Senate HHS Committee “Hearing”

“Today, overzealous politicians and extremists orchestrated a politically motivated hearing, serving as yet another incessant attack on all Texas abortion providers in order to end safe, legal abortion care by any means necessary. Although Planned Parenthood continues to be at the center of these attacks, today during biased testimony other providers like Whole Woman’s Health were mentioned. It is clear that these heinous attempts are now aimed to broadly discredit safe abortion care in the entire state of Texas.”  

– Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder, President, and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health

Speaking out against the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing regarding alleged illegal activity occurring at Planned Parenthood.