Amy’s Full Testimony Against Neil Gorsuch

Thursday, March 23, Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health, Lead Plaintiff in the historic Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt Supreme Court case, testified before a Senate committee on why we must stop Judge Gorsuch. Amy represents abortion providers, women’s health advocates & people across the country who need access to abortion. Below is her testimony:

“I’m speaking on behalf of abortion providers, women’s health, rights and justice advocates, and the people we serve all across the country who deserve access to quality healthcare, delivered with dignity and respect.

I am the founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. As a company, we were the lead plaintiff in last year’s landmark Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. I have personally witnessed how decisions made at the high court directly impact the lives of women. I know what happens when politicians find devious ways to deny women’s constitutional rights, and why it is so important to have independent jurists who respect precedent and the rule of law.

I am gravely concerned about the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, Whole Woman’s Health joined with 54 other reproductive health, rights and justice organizations in a letter to the Senate opposing Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.

The Supreme Court has reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal in the United States for four decades. This hasn’t stopped legislators across the country from establishing roadblocks for women seeking abortion care. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 330 restrictive laws have been passed since 2010.

The laws’ impact hit the state of Texas especially hard. Anti-abortion legislators passed HB2 in 2013, shuttering over half the state’s clinics. The law resulted in women being forced to drive hundreds of miles, even across state lines, to access their right to safe and legal abortion.  In some cases, the hurdles were so high women simply took matters into their own hands.

I will never forget the woman who called us from South Texas right after the law went into effect. We told her our clinic had been forced to close, and she now had to drive 250 miles each way to San Antonio. She told us there was no way she could take two days off work, find childcare and the money to drive that far.  She said, ‘I will tell you what is in my medicine cabinet and can you tell me how I can do my own abortion?’

In our country, where abortion has been legal for more than 40 years, no woman should be forced to take matters into her own hands.  Nor should she fear criminalization or jail time if she does.

Would Neil Gorsuch support unnecessary obstacles to our constitutional rights? We need to know.

I also remember the woman who called from West Texas—where every single clinic had been shut down. She too was a single, working mother with three children. We helped her find a clinic, raised money for her abortion, childcare, transportation and her lost wages.  By the time she made it to a Dallas clinic eight weeks later, it was too late to have an abortion in the state of Texas.

Would Neil Gorsuch support laws that limit our constitutional rights to our zip codes? We need to to know.

Last year we took Texas to the Supreme Court and we won; in the final ruling the court called out these and other clinic closure laws for what they are—sham laws that create  obstacles to care with no medical basis behind them.

Sadly, even with our victory, this fight has not ended. Women need to know that if their rights are once again on trial. We need to assure that they will be served by justices who are not beholden to an ideological agenda.

We know President Trump’s litmus test was a justice who would overturn Roe V. Wade. Judge Gorsuch has refused to answer basic questions about his stance on Roe, Whole Woman’s Health, or the right to privacy.

Yet we know in the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah vs. Gary Herbert case, Gorsuch sided with politicians using misinformation and false claims to defund women’s health services. And in the Hobby Lobby Vs. Sebelius contraception case, he supported the notion that corporations are people.

If he would allow politicians to play games with our reproductive rights, how will he treat other rights that come before him?”

A Message From Our Founder: Why I’m Reopening My Clinic in Austin Amidst Continued Attacks on Texan Women

 

austinreopen2.pngNearly 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.

 

Black History Month – 3 Black Women Who Fought for Abortion Access

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Although it may seem like the fight for abortion rights is bigger than ever under the new administration, it has always been an uphill battle. As Black History Month comes to a close, we want to honor three African American women who’ve served as abortion activists – whether in the spotlight or behind-the-scenes – their work is still felt today.

Florynce Kennedy

Known to many as “Flo”, Florynce Kennedy was the author of “Abortion Rap”, and called the biggest, loudest, and the rudest activist by People magazine in 1974. She was an American lawyer, feminist, civil rights advocate, lecturer and activist from Kansas City, Missouri.

She moved to New York City so she could attend the Columbia University School of General Studies and majored in pre-law. In her autobiography, she wrote about being refused admission to the law school, not because she was black, but because she was a woman. When she threatened to sue the university, she was admitted and later became one of the first black women to graduate from Columbia Law School.

Less than 20 years after graduating, she sued the Roman Catholic Church for interference with abortion. A year later, she organized a group of feminist lawyers to challenge the constitutionality of New York State’s abortion law, which was credited with helping influence the Legislature to liberalize abortion in 1970.

Read more about Florynce Kennedy.

Byllye Avery

Byllye Avery served as a lifelong activist, and was the founder of several organizations for women’s health, including the National Black Women’s Health Project in 1983 (today, it’s the Black Women’s Health Imperative), the Gainesville Women’s Health Center in 1974, and she cofounded Birthplace, an alternative birthing center. She was also a leader in the underground abortion referral network in Florida.

In 2002, she founded The Avery Institute for Social Change – a non-profit organization based in Harlem, NY that is committed to quality health care for all. Currently she is a clinical professor at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and an advisor to the National Institutes of Health.

Read more about Byllye Avery.

Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts is a University of Pennsylvania Professor, and has been a pioneer in the reproductive justice movement.

Although birth control, the morning-after pill, and abortions were available while Roberts was in college, she recognized the struggle women faced in other communities in order to access abortion.

For her, abortion has never been controversial, and she has always been surprised to see backlash from the decision in Roe v. Wade. She believed so much that women should have the right to reproductive healthcare that she became a lawyer.

Roberts has talked to the press about her belief that access to reproductive health means that all women are given the same access – and laws such as the Hyde Amendment, which denies federal funding for women who cannot afford an abortion – do not allow for all women to have equal access.

Read more about Dorothy Roberts.

Whole Woman’s Health Celebrates 14 Years

 

Whole Woman's Health turns 14!

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

“I’m feeling so proud to have taken a risk to form my own company based solidly in my mission and vision. Being an abortion care provider in the South comes with challenges. I’m proud to have had women working with me by my side since day one who are passionate, dedicated, whip-smart and reflect and care for the communities we live and work in.

I’m proud to have grown so much over these past 14 years – adding clinics where we are needed most, fighting bad laws and bad guys, adding non-profit work in advocacy and education and emerging as national thought leaders and innovators in our field.
I couldn’t be prouder of my family and my team at Whole Woman’s Health! On this 14th anniversary, I pause to thank the doctors, nurses, counselors, medical assistants, advocates and leadership at Whole Woman’s Health. And I toast our allies all across the nation. We are all bright lights and we will shine on.”

We are more resilient than ever and are continuing our commitment to grow, advocate, educate, teach, learn, listen, and fight!

Our favorite 2016 moments!

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Let’s face it, 2016 sucked. Despite the chaos, it is necessary to remember the good things that happened – to keep us grounded and to keep us motivated about going forward in 2017.

 

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Our victory at the Supreme Court!

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was the biggest abortion rights case in our generation. This small, independent, woman-owned, woman-led organization took the bullies all the way to the nation’s highest court, and WON!

 

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We helped #ScrapTRAP in Virginia!

After our SCOTUS victory, The Virginia Board of Health said so-long to similar anti-abortion restrictions.

 

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8 states used our SCOTUS win to reverse anti-abortion restrictions!

Virginia wasn’t the only state to do away with sham, anti-abortion restrictions! Other states, take note – the burden is UNDUE.

 

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Our hard working staff getting to celebrate our #SCOTUS win!

Our staff in Texas has dealt with many ups and downs during the 3-year journey to the Supreme Court. We were able to celebrate with our staff and community members in our McAllen, San Antonio, and Fort Worth clinics.

 

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Texas Truth Tour

We were able to go to communities all across Texas that would have been negatively impacted by HB2 and listen to community leaders speak truth to what was at stake in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

 
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Abortion Story Telling

Wether it was 100 lawyers sharing their abortion stories in an amicus brief, or people sharing their story online with the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag, we absolutely loved the brave and stigma-busting act of sharing these stories loud and unapologetically.

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Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and other funny figures exposing anti-abortion nonsense.

It is hard to keep up with anti-abortion rules and legislation. It seems like every day there is something new and horrible that our opposition is throwing at us. We’re thankful to comedians like Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Seth Myers who made this information accessible to their audiences and making us laugh along the way.

 

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NNAF Rebrand: Fund Abortion, Build Power

National Network of Abortion Funds had a rebrand and we are excited to see what great things they will accomplish in 2017! Their intersectional vision and their amazing leadership that centers marginalized identities is making the Reproductive Justice movement stronger.

 

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TRAPPED the documentary.

TRAPPED, the award-winning documentary by Dawn Porter was able to tell the stories of 3 independent abortion providers (including Whole Woman’s Health) dealing with anti-abortion restrictions in the south. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is now available on Netflix!

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Fighting back for our patients.

Texas sneakily introduced a new anti-abortion rule just four days after our Supreme Court victory. We aren’t having it. Our Supreme Court victory gives a strong ground to stand on that we didn’t have before and we are taking the bullies back to court.

We will keep fighting for our patients’ respect and dignity.

 

Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller on Today’s Temporary Restraining Order Hearing for Texas Healthcare Providers

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We find ourselves back in court, just months after our victory at the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. This time it’s because Texas has put forward new medically unnecessary rules that would require all women who have an abortion or receive treatment for a miscarriage at any healthcare facility to have to bury or cremate embryonic tissue. This restriction, just like the many before it, all across our nation, does not create any health benefit for women and is strictly designed to limit access to safe, quality abortion care.

 

So today, with the lead from the Center for Reproductive Rights, we asked Judge Sparks for a temporary restraining order to block the rule from going into effect on Monday, December 19th. Judge Sparks expressed skepticism about the new rules being about the health and safety of women, and felt like it was a reaction from our victory at the Supreme Court under Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. He suspended the ruling from going into effect until January 6th, which will be after the scheduled trial, January 3-4th, 2017 in Austin, TX.

 

We will keep saying it over and over again: Women deserve better. We’re confident that our recent victory at the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt gives us strong ground to stand as we continue to fight these coerced mandates from overzealous politicians that strip personal decisions away from women and families.

 

 

For press inquiries, please email wwhpress@wholewomanshealth.com

We’re standing up against the bullies

 

 

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Today, we stood up to the bullies again because women deserve better.

 

Texas’ profound disrespect of women’s health and dignity apparently has no bounds with this recent attack on women. This latest attempt is an end run game to add restrictions on abortion care and ignored thousands of people’s testimony and comments. Whole Woman’s Health has a history of fighting restrictions that are deeply rooted in shaming and stigmatizing Texans and today’s filing is no different.

 

We will not stand for Texas putting more undue burdens on women and families who deserve the safe and compassionate abortion care that we provide at Whole Woman’s Health.

We need your help to ensure women have the dignity to continue making their own healthcare decisions. Donate $25 to support our culture change work in Texas.

It is not the business of politicians to regulate people’s bedrooms, families, bodies or the rituals and beliefs people have in their own lives. Politicians have no place stepping into the private decisions Texans make during their healthcare experiences. 

 

We will not sit idly by as the state tries to dictate how your abortion should be for you. Join Us.  

DONATE to support our culture change work around abortion.

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