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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.
#stopthesham

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.

Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health on Today’s Supreme Court #HB2 Stay

“Today I truly breathe a deep sigh of relief  as the the Supreme Court of the United States protected our three Whole Woman’s Health clinics in West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley from shutting their doors by partially blocking components of Texas’ omnibus anti-choice law, HB2.

I just can’t stop smiling since I heard the news an hour ago – all this work, all this time, and all this uncertainty for my team and the women that we serve. Always knowing that we stand on the right side of history, yet always being careful not to hope too much. But today we did it. We kept Texas’ clinics open. Calling my team in McAllen and my team in Fort Worth just now was so rewarding – to tell them that the clinics will stay open, and that the jobs they love so much serving women will be there for them next week and beyond. They were cheering.

As you know this law, which was recently upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court, would have had a catastrophic impact on women and families across the state of Texas. We’re relieved that the high court has, once again, prevented anti-choice politicians’ from pushing safe and affordable abortion care entirely out of reach for the women in these communities.

Let me be clear: these restrictions have nothing to do with protecting women. HB2 is anti-choice legislators’ thinly veiled attempt to make abortion unavailable and unaffordable by closing down clinics. Today’s ruling only reinforces the fact that requiring every abortion clinic to turn into a surgical center is both excessive and medically unnecessarily.

We understand that these court decisions are changing the status of this law from  day to day. We are committed to ensuring that Texas women know that abortion is still LEGAL and, despite anti-choice lawmakers’ best efforts, it is also still available. If women have questions about where they can go to end an pregnancy, I would encourage them to call our newly established hotline at 1 (877) 833-9190.

We are emboldened by the Court’s decision, but know that this fight is far from over. We will continue to stand with the women of Texas to ensure they have access to affordable abortion care when they need it. As my staff just said to me when I called them an hour ago – we will be here no matter what, we get knocked down and still we rise. We are in it for the long haul, and today is a really good day!”

 

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An Announcement from our CEO – Meet Whole Woman’s Health of Peoria!

Whole Woman’s Health is pleased to announce that we have opened a new clinic location in Peoria, Illinois! We will proudly be carrying forward the work done here for 40 years by the staff and physicians at National Health Care of Peoria. When the National Health Care team called us earlier this year to let us know that they were interested in selling the clinic after one of their owners had passed away and the remaining owner was ill, we were honored that they would choose Whole Woman’s Health to work with in crafting a succession plan that would work for their team and for the many women they serve here in Peoria. It didn’t take long after we first came to visit – in what is called the heart of Illinois – for us to become impressed with this tight-knit team and beautiful clinic.

As mentioned, Whole Woman’s Health of Peoria is in the heart of Central Illinois, about 180 miles Southwest of Chicago and 190 miles North of St. Louis. We are members of the National Abortion Federation, The Abortion Care Network, and we are a licensed Pregnancy Termination Center by the state of Illinois. We provide quality abortion care to 16 weeks and are staffed by board certified Ob/Gyn physicians, nurses, and a phenomenal leadership team.

All of us at Whole Woman’s Health are truly honored to take the legacy of National Health Care forward into the future and to keep access to safe, quality, independent abortion care a reality for women in Central Illinois.

Later this week, right here on this blog, we will introduce you to Margaret, our fearless leader here in Peoria who has been at this clinic for over 40 years. We are honored to have her help in this transition and to lead Whole Woman’s Health of Peoria as we get established here to continue to serve this wonderful community.

Cheers form the heart of Illinois, where access to safe abortion will remain for many, many years to come! It’s Margaret’s legacy and Whole Woman’s Health’s mission.

– Amy

Whole Woman's Health of Peoria Square

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“…you made a difference in my world.”

Dear Whole Woman’s Health Staff:

I was in your care while making one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I don’t remember anyone’s name – the day is a bit of a blur – but I wanted to thank you all for making such a difficult day that much less difficult by providing me (and the other women) with such a supportive, safe, gentle, and loving environment. Thank you.

I’m so glad I had the option of coming to you. I know your jobs must be difficult but rewarding and I wanted to let you all know that you made a difference in my world.

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Positive snaps from the EmpowerLine

Meet Emily: Your abortion navigator and all-around helpful person

When we talk about abortion providers, stories usually center around the physicians, administrators, staff and volunteers who work directly with patients in the clinic. The abortion experience does not only happen within the walls of a clinic, though. What about the before? Or the after?

Our EmpowerLine team is the touchpoint for our patients and their support people in those before, during, and after spaces. Collectively we have over one thousand phone conversations each week with people all across the country regarding waiting periods, insurance and funding options, emotional needs, and more. The EmpowerLine is Whole Woman’s Health values of empowerment and holistic care personified, with a little quirk.

We're Mirenas!

A photo posted by Whole Woman's Health (@wholewomans) on

We sat down with Emily, one of our Women’s Health Advocates to talk about working in the EmpowerLine and the role of phone service within the abortion experience.

Why work in the EmpowerLine? Is there something to helping people over the phone?

I like the EL (EmpowerLine) because we can speak with people across the country with so many different situations. The stigma surrounding abortion makes it so people don’t know what to expect when they come into an abortion clinic. They have this image in their head that isn’t welcoming or good. It’s nice to put their mind at ease, to explain to them what they’ll be experiencing.

The more you know about what you’re about to go through, the more relaxed you’ll be. It’s nice to be able to dispel some of the myths that women have about abortions, e.g. not being able to get pregnant again. To be able to answer those concerns and then hear the relief, it’s very powerful. You can come into the clinic and receive support here, and that’s great, but you need to have support before as well.

Why should people call the EmpowerLine?

The level of advocacy that we have. The funding resources. We really do go above and beyond. For example, if they’re Catholic and having trouble reconciling that we’ll give them the information for Faith Aloud or Catholics for Choice. I like to think of us like a web.

We’re more than just a call center because we can talk through feelings, questions, concerns. It’s more than just setting up appointments. It’s beyond that. It’s more holistic. We may be speaking on the phone, but we’re developing personal connections. Often times people will call back multiple times, asking for us by name because we’ve developed those connections.

A lot of women will travel from really far away. They can’t come in and have extended counseling, or they don’t have the time etc., not everyone can just come in and take a day off or something to speak to a person. The EmpowerLine is only a phone call away and we always encourage people to call back with questions or concerns no matter how big or small. Women are busy. Sometimes you’re only able to make a phone call and so it’s important that there is someone on the other end who’s really listening.

Emily

Emily sitting at her desk in the EmpowerLine

What kinds of conversations stick out in your mind?

The most meaningful conversations I have are with the people who have all the myths in their mind. They’ve only heard the anti-choice language, but they find themselves in need of our services. So I get to take the time and explain how abortion actually works – that this is actually a very safe, non-invasive procedure.

What changed for you when you started working in abortion care?

Before working here I didn’t realize how common [abortion] was. How one out of three women have an abortion in their lifetime. Most are mothers. We see patients who range from being children to their 50s. It’s not just teenagers, or poor people, or single people. I now think about it more as a regular part of women’s healthcare. It’s not this separate, like, fringe thing. It’s a healthcare service like any other. 

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One of the things that makes Whole Woman’s Health unique is our openness and support for people seeking second trimester abortion care..

There are so many different reasons why women have abortions further along in their pregnancies. Because until you hear their stories, you can’t pass judgement. It’s not a ‘oh, I just didn’t get around to it.’ I had one woman who spent months thinking she was going through menopause and it turned out she was pregnant. Or, there was a patient who was assaulted and in a state of shock for so long that she simply didn’t comprehend that she was pregnant. The people who have abortions further in their pregnancy have special situations. And money… the money chase. Sometimes money is the largest barrier between someone and the abortion they need. 

Anything else?

I like to be able to say that I work at an abortion clinic because abortion is not a dirty word and the more we say it the more it’s less hush hush. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I work here with pride. The more I share my knowledge with other people, the more that conversation happens and the more people get interested and it opens doors to other people. And that’s what needs to happen across the country. Conversations that are being had around abortion.

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