Whole Woman’s Health Statement on New Requirements for Texas Healthcare Providers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2016

 

Austin, TX – Earlier this week, after receiving thousands of comments against the rules, the Texas Department of State Health Services finalized administrative requirements that would require burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue resulting from abortions or miscarriages. The rules were first proposed back in July, only days after our historic win at the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the nation’s highest court declared Texas’ anti-abortion regulations were indeed unconstitutional. These new administrative requirements serve no other purpose than to humiliate and stigmatize Texas women, families and healthcare providers.

 

Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health:

 

“At Whole Woman’s Health, we keep women at the center of all that we do. Their dignity and respect means everything to us. Texas’ profound disrespect of women’s health and dignity apparently has no bounds with this new administrative requirement that they’ve put forward. These rules have absolutely no added benefit to women’s health and safety and are clearly an undue burden. As was decided this summer in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court ruled that you can’t put a burden in the path of women seeking safe abortion care unless you can justify that it somehow furthers women’s health and safety. This administrative rule has nothing to do with women’s health and safety, it is clearly unconstitutional.

Texas did an end run game through the administrative process and ignored thousands of people’s testimony and commentary. But make no mistake, we see them and we see what they are up to. Whole Woman’s Health stands for Texas women and families as everyone saw with our three-year challenge of House Bill 2 and our ultimate victory in the Supreme Court this summer. We will not stand for Texas putting more undue burdens on women and families who deserve safe and compassionate abortion care that we provide at Whole Woman’s Health.”

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For press inquiries, please email: wwhpress@wholewomanshealth.com

How to help independent abortion providers and the organizations that support them, post-election.

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How to help Whole Woman’s Health:

Whole Woman’s Health is the largest independent abortion care provider in the US with 3 clinics in Texas, one in Minnesota, one in Illinois, one in New Mexico and a clinic in Maryland.

Clinic Escorting: Most of our clinics have plenty of community members who volunteer as clinic escorts, and that is not the biggest need at the moment. We do have a clinic location that is always in need of clinic escorts. The contact information is below. If any our clinics need more escorts, we will update this blog post with the information on how to get involved.

McAllen, TX – Please contact South Texans for Reproductive Justice to volunteer as an escort.

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The best way to help Whole Woman’s Health would be through direct monetary support:

  • Donate directly to Whole Woman’s Health via Paypal. Send your donation to the following email: cfo@wholewomanshealth.com*Please note that this donation is not tax-deductible.
  • Donate to Shift18522_1444264939219350_1839630750328429196_n

Shift. is a nonprofit started by Whole Woman’s Health founder and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, that works strategically to shift the stigma around abortion in our culture.

Instead of packing up, I am redoubling my efforts to change our culture and ensure that we can still provide the support and advocacy that our patients and our community have come to count on.

— Amy Hagstrom Miller, Truth-Out.org

 

Donate to Abortion Care Network:

The Abortion Care Network is the national association for independent community-based, abortion care providers, and their allies. Together they work to ensure the rights of all people to experience respectful, dignified abortion care.

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Donate to the National Abortion Federation 

The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.

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Donate to the Center for Reproductive Rights

They are the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to reproductive rights, with expertise in both U.S. constitutional and international human rights law. The Center for Reproductive Rights took our case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, to the Supreme Court, and won!

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  Donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds

NNAF builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and racial justice.

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Our love is much stronger than their hate – a statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller

 

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11 November 2016

 
Dear friends and allies of our Whole Woman’s Health family,
 
Like many of you, I feel broken this week. It is hard to summon the spirit – my resilient, inspirational sprit –  in the wake of such hatred and vitriol. I am really, really sad that Hillary is not going to be our President. She ran such a dignified campaign and I was very excited to elect a woman for the first time that is so qualified and would have taken us not only through the glass ceiling, but toward goodness on many levels – restoring access, fairness and compassion after a brutal campaign. She would have carried forward much of the great work President Obama has done.
 
Alas, we are facing a very different reality than we have hoped and dreamed for. It hurts a lot.
 
Our team at Whole Woman’s Health is predominately women; we are many people of color, we include immigrants and we are all abortion providers.  Many of these identities are now under threat as we face a Trump administration. These are dark times, there is no denying.
 
This campaign has made racism acceptable, and legitimized it in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. This coupled with the violence we are seeing in the streets against black and brown people; well it is overwhelming and terrifying.
 
Our grief right now is palpable, and it is normal. This election was not normal, but our grief and despair IS. Especially for us at Whole Woman’s Health, after all we fought for these past few years and the big win we had this year, to turn around and face this is traumatic.
 
We worked our butts off, and we deserve better.
 
I am tremendously thankful today for our powerful allies doing amazing work in Reproductive Rights, Health and Justice. I am also really thankful for our Whole Woman’s Health clinics; that despite the lack of control and influence our voices have sometimes in the outside world, here in our clinics we have the ability to make the world a better place. In our clinics we care for women and families in profound ways; we create a place filled with compassion, dignity, love and respect – for all people – no matter where they come from, what the color of their skin, or their ability to pay. We can live our values in our work, and we can affirm them with each other. We can model them for the people who come through our doors, and we can light the fire of action and inspiration through our example.
 
Each day our clinic staff, physicians and leadership make such a difference – our teams are making this country a better place by providing compassionate abortion care with the dignity all people deserve.
 
I believe is right for us to feel defeated for a while – what happened in this election was wrong, scary and unjust. Trump does not reflect the America that we value and that we are working to build together.  I look forward to some healing time and to a near future where we can link arms in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters and work to make this country live up to its promise for all of us.
As I told my staff earlier this week, please take care of each other – take a longer break at lunch, linger to talk over coffee with your coworkers, set up a potluck or an after work gathering.  Get to know one another better, talk about all of this as a team.
 
Connection is rebellion; it is also survival.
 
Stand by each other and remember, our love is much, much stronger than their hate.
At Whole Woman’s Health, we stand in the light.
 
In solidarity,
Amy Hagstrom Miller
Founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health
 

Virginia – it’s time to #ScrapTrap!

** This post has been updated to include a statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller in regards to the Virginia Board of Health doing away with medically unnecessary regulations that targeted abortion providers. **

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On Monday, October 24th we will be telling the Virginia Board of Health to #ScrapTrap! The Virginia Board of Health has the opportunity to scrap TRAP laws in the state thanks to our victory at the Supreme Court!

BACKGROUND:

“Since 2010, Virginia politicians have proposed more than 75 restrictions on women’s access to abortion and reproductive health care. Those restrictions include mandatory ultrasounds, restrictions on birth control access, and a refusal to allow insurance policies to cover abortion procedures. These proposals are part of a long-term, coordinated campaign to end access to abortion in Virginia and have nothing to do with women’s health and safety.”  

– Amy Hagstrom Miller in The Washington Post, September 8th, 2016. 

LIVESTREAM: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/evtj3sA5sDP

Amy Hagstrom Miller’s statement to the Virginia Board of Health 

Good morning. My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller, and I am the founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and we provide high quality, compassionate abortion care in the United States. I was the lead plaintiff in the case challenging Texas’ House Bill 2, a politically-motivated law that could have closed all but nine abortion clinics in Texas.

In June, we won our case at the Supreme Court. The ruling was a strong reaffirmation of the constitutional right to access abortion, and an even stronger rebuke of the Texas politicians who passed HB2 under the pretext of protecting women’s health and safety.

Like Texas’ HB2, the regulations originally passed by the Board of Health were politically motivated and medically unjustified. These regulations would have required abortions to be performed in mini-hospitals. This would have closed good clinics across Virginia, jeopardizing women’s health and blocking access to safe, legal abortion care.

I know firsthand how devastating it is to close clinics and turn away women who need care. HB2 forced me to close two of my Texas facilities. Shuttering abortion clinics does not reduce the need for abortion; these restrictions do nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancies or to support women. These sham laws strip women of the dignity to make their own healthcare decisions.

Requirements related to hallway widths, the number of parking spaces, and janitors’ closets do not advance health and safety but rather shutter healthcare centers and end access to safe abortion.  Abortion providers do not need to rebuild as mini-hospitals in order to provide quality abortion care—and the Supreme Court recently agreed with me.

Today, you can stop the sham by voting “yes” to the amendments before you.

A “yes” vote is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

A “yes” vote ends the sham building and construction requirements that threaten to close women’s health centers across Virginia.

A “yes” vote will allow Virginians to make decisions about their pregnancies without political interference. All Virginians deserve compassionate, dignified, respectful abortion care in their communities.

I urge the Virginia Board of Health to vote to protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth. Thank you.

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Whole Woman’s Health Statement on the Virginia Board of Health Vote to Amend Dozens of Abortion Restrictions

 

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

 Today, witnesses in Virginia testified that our Supreme Court decision issued a new standard that all state laws need to consider. Witnesses called upon the Board of Health to vote “yes” to the amendments before them, which would undue onerous physical plant requirements such as those regulating hallway widths, janitor closets and covered walkways; which add no value to women’s health or safety and shutter good clinics. And the amendments were successfully passed in an 11-4 vote.

 It was thrilling to watch Virginians passionately refer to our Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case as the new standard, affirming that no government can put forward restrictions like these on a woman’s access to safe abortion care without carrying out those laws to advance women’s health and safety.

 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: abortion 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 exponentially multiply the number of devastating albeit unnecessary hurdles that women must overcome when seeking reproductive health services.

 As of today, seven states have used the Whole Woman’s Health decision to restore quality access to abortion care with dignity to the women and families in their communities.

But, we can’t let this victory in Virginia distract us from the other major obstacle to access to safe abortions. TRAP restrictions still shut down clinics and prevent many from reopening.  Over the past few years, states like Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Kansas, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and others have seen a dramatic rise in this interference. In fact, the 334 abortion restrictions enacted by states across the country from 2011 to July 2016 account for 30% of all restrictions since Roe v. Wade.  

 I celebrate this victory as I celebrated the Whole Woman’s Health victory in June, as one which could transform the field of abortion care in the U.S.

Come celebrate with us, Texas!

It’s been a couple weeks since our win at the Supreme Court and we’re still pinching ourselves! Our clinic staff has made a lot of sacrifices during the past 3 years as we fought back against HB2 and they are still standing strong! Now it is time to celebrate this victory with our clinic warriors, family, and friends! Find an event in a city near you! Locations will be announced after RSVP.

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FORT WORTH: BBQ and Karaoke!                                                                                                 September 19th, 2016  from 5 to 8PM                                                                                                           RSVP 

SAN ANTONIO: Margaritas and Texas Hold Em’ – Whole Woman’s Health style!                      September 20th, 2016  from 5 to 9PM                                                                                                RSVP 

 MCALLEN: Community Volunteer Event   –  Details TBA                                                                    September 30th, 2016                                                                                                                             RSVP

Want to share this event with someone who doesn’t have Facebook? They can RSVP through THIS FORM.

 

Beyond SCOTUS: What Happens Now?

Yesterday’s Supreme Court victory was a historic win for abortion rights and was especially meaningful for us and providers across the country who have had to close their doors from these medically unnecessary restrictions.

While we’ve been celebrating the good news, there are new questions on all our minds as we look ahead: When will clinics reopen? When will abortion access be restored?

 

The remaining clinics in Texas will be able to keep their doors open, and this decision paves the way for other clinics to open or reopen. However, this process may not be a swift one. Many layers combine to create an abortion landscape and include, but are not limited to, state laws, local statutes, community support, state funding options, insurance coverage rules (only a handful of states allow for state Medicaid to cover abortion services), finding a building, finding a building that someone is willing to lease to us, purchasing equipment, applying for and going through the process of getting approved for licensing, hiring and training staff and physicians, and more.

Here’s Amy Hagstrom Miller speaking about this process with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:

And so, I think what we’re going to see is many of us, Whole Woman’s Health included, trying to figure out where will we be able to reopen, what will the process be for finding a lease and finding a building and restoring the staffing and the physicians. And the second part will be: What’s the process going to be now for us to apply for a new license for abortion services in the state of Texas after we’ve had this win? How is that process going to be for us? And I think, you know, none of us really know how it’s going to be. And so, I think we’ll see a couple—a couple of us probably try as soon as we could. And, you know, I think it’s important to also realize that part of the abortion facility work is operational, and it’s healthcare—you know, Healthcare 101. And so, we have to figure out how to raise funds for acquiring the equipment, acquiring the medicines and the staffing and those kinds of things, in order to run a top-notch facility. And that isn’t something that can happen overnight.

 

We came into this work to provide compassionate, quality abortion care and that is exactly what we want to continue doing. It is our dream to see abortion access restored in Texas – for people to have clinics in their communities where they can receive care.

We’re working to resume care in communities that have been left without – but first that means getting the resources together to rebuild. Our nonprofit, Shift. is raising money to help with this effort. Donate here to help us turn the tide on the current abortion access crisis in Texas.

Amy Hagstrom Miller: Today, We Made History

I am beyond elated. Every day Whole Woman’s Health treats our patients with compassion, respect and dignity – and with this historic decision, today the Supreme Court did the same. We’re thrilled that justice was served and our clinics stay open.

After years of fighting heartless, anti-abortion Texas politicians who would seemingly stop at nothing to push abortion out of reach, I want everyone to understand: you don’t mess with Texas, you don’t mess with Whole Woman’s health, and you don’t mess with this beautiful, powerful movement of people dedicated to reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Three years ago, Texas politicians passed HB 2, a regressive law aimed directly at women who have decided to end a pregnancy and those of us who provide their care. With no legitimate medical justification, politicians forced abortion providers to completely restructure our clinics or to build mini hospitals. HB 2 forced more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics to close – including several of my own. Click here to help us keep clinics open.

These closures have put a staggering burden on Texas women. With this clinic shutdown law, politicians forced Texas women seeking abortion to go to clinics that are further away or in another state; take more days off of work, lose income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation to travel hundreds of miles. For many, the process of obtaining safe and legal health care has become an onerous, grueling feat or just flat out impossible.

I hold in my heart all those women and families who were forced to forgo care as a result of Texas’ draconian anti-choice laws.

Today’s decision marks a turnaround for Texas and for our country, but let me be clear: this win doesn’t mean the struggle is over. First, clinics don’t reopen overnight. We have a daunting task ahead of us to determine whether and how we can reopen our health centers that were forced to shut their doors over the past several years. Renewing leases, hiring staff, and working with communities that we previously served to help us re-open for care.

And second, this decision only addressed two of the many, many restrictions women face to get abortion care in Texas. Now we must redouble our efforts across the country to end similar state restrictions that push abortion out of reach for too many women. It’s time to pass proactive state laws so a woman has access to quality clinics in her community, can afford abortion, and doesn’t face shame or stigma when she seeks care.

From day one, Whole Woman’s Health rejected HB 2’s insulting premise and we fought back. We took on the bully politicians. We have struggled every day since then against anti-choice, regressive policies and our opposition’s best efforts to shut us down.

And we won.

I am proud to continue providing holistic and high-quality care not only in Texas, but also in Maryland, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Illinois. Today, we made history and tomorrow, we get back to work so that every woman who seeks abortion services can get the health care she needs with dignity and respect.

 

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