Nearly nine months after U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision in June, which overturned restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas and nationwide, we’ve decided to reopen our flagship Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Austin. By mid-April, we will be serving Central Texas again.
In July 2014, Whole Woman’s Health of Austin was forced to close due to Texas’s Omnibus Abortion Bill (HB2). The admitting privileges and ASC building requirements, which legislate everything from the size of hallways to the size of the janitor’s closet, had a direct impact on Texas abortion providers, causing over half of the state’s clinics to close. Since then, women in need of abortion care have had to wait longer for appointments, drive outside of their communities for a simple procedure, and had to delay their care.
I’m making this decision as part of a bigger commitment to defend women’s access to abortion nationwide. Since I founded Whole Woman’s Health in Austin in 2003, I’ve testified and been a plaintiff in at least four different cases taking on Texas’ onerous laws, as well as fighting for access for women in states all across the USA. After our Supreme Court victory, the Whole Woman’s Health decision has been used to reverse similar anti-abortion laws in over 8 states, restoring women’s health and access to quality care.
When we made the devastating decision to close in Austin in 2014 in the wake of HB2, I made the commitment to reopen in Austin as soon as I could. We got our start here, and I’m thrilled to announce that we’ll be restoring the fabric of care that Texans have come to count on from Whole Woman’s Health.
As we have seen, anti-abortion restrictions like HB2 are designed to shut clinics down, they shame women and they make accessing abortion difficult. But, every woman deserves support, respect, and dignity in making her own health decisions, including being able to safely and legally end a pregnancy if she needs to – and the majority of Americans support this opinion.
Polls have shown that the vast majority of Americans believe women should have access to safe, high-quality abortion care in their local communities. In our clinics, we provide every woman the compassionate, professional and safe abortion care that she deserves and it is time this care returned to Austin.
At Whole Woman’s Health, we’ve been inspired by dozens of allies: supporters, partner organizations, staff, physicians and members of the community. Despite opposition, our community has rallied with us to restore quality care and serve Central Texas. However, even with this re-opening, there will still only be 19 abortion facilities providing care in Texas, still a stark decline from the 41 clinics that were open prior to HB2’s implementation in 2013.
All abortion care providers – in Texas, and throughout the country – are still subject to continued legislative attacks and targeted regulation. At least 46 anti-abortion bills have been introduced this season at the state level. They range from outright abortion bans, to more restrictions on methods and facilities, to the institution of funeral requirements for fetuses.
It would appear that Texas politicians are undeterred by the Supreme Court’s rulings and will continue to allocate precious Texas’ resources to restricting abortion access, no matter how costly or unconstitutional the fight may be. The state spent $4.5 million in the Hellerstedt battle, and lost again recently in Whole Woman’s Health V. Hellerstedt II: A federal judge blocked state regulations forcing Texas health care providers to bury or cremate embryonic or fetal tissue from abortions, miscarriage or treatment for ectopic pregnancy–regardless of their patients’ personal wishes or beliefs. Like many other clinics and activists throughout the nation, we will persist in fighting these battles on the streets, in the courts, and in the national conversation. Despite what political rhetoric might have you believe, the people of Texas are on our side.
We can, and will, restore services and the care that women need— even in Texas. Hopefully, this opening will also serve as a beacon of hope for the rest of the nation.
In leading the long fight against HB2, we know our work is not done.
As we use our Hellerstedt victory to return to the Austin and Central Texas community, we feel more determined than ever to help restore care in the communities that need us the most throughout the country. Our Austin reopening in April is simply our first giant step forward.
Beginning April 2017, schedule an appointment at our Austin location by calling (877) 835-1090.