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Amy Hagstrom Miller on Today’s FDA Mifepristone Announcement

Today’s FDA announcement of a label change to Mifepristone is a significant advancement for women in the United States.  All of us at Whole Woman’s Health are thrilled that the updated FDA labeling reflects evidence based care that is best for women. People who visit our clinics deserve options for abortion care without worrying about medically unnecessary obstacles and this change allows for more women to get the care they deserve.
We are particularly encouraged that this updated labeling could expand the availability of abortion in Texas, where  anti-choice politicians continue to interfere in women’s personal health decisions, enacting laws such as HB2 that deny women the ability to make their own decisions about whether and when to become a parent.
Prior to HB2, 40 to 50% of our patients at Whole Woman’s Health chose medication abortion. Since HB2 went into effect, that figure has decreased dramatically. For the past two years only about 5% of the women we serve in Texas have been able to get the medication abortion care they wanted because HB2s barriers were insurmountable. This label change will dramatically expand access for women not only in Texas, but throughout our clinics nationwide.
While we appreciate this step forward, we also acknowledge that there are still too many restrictions preventing women from quality care.  The reality is that low-income women, women of color and rural women bear the brunt of abortion care restrictions.  We will continue to fight for the day when all women have access to the compassionate and comprehensive reproductive health care that we provide at our clinics.
Whole Woman’s Health has a strong commitment to make Medication Abortion an option for all our patients and we look forward to implementing this new label change in our clinics in the coming days.
Amy Hagstrom Miller
President and CEO
Whole Woman’s Health
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#FlashbackFriday: Watch the Whole Woman’s squad speak @ the Supreme Court!

We don’t know about you, but we’re still just recovering from last week’s oral arguments and Supreme Court rally! It’s been tough getting back into the day-to-day now that we’re no longer prepping for the biggest reproductive rights case of our generation (although now we’re playing the waiting game again as we look toward the Justices for a decision).

So, it’s understandable that we’d be spending the week reliving the moment by going back through Twitter and Instagram feeds, and re-watching the rally recordings. Our Whole Woman’s Health squad had the honor of speaking several times throughout the program, and we’ve gathered them all below for your Friday viewing pleasure🙂

Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO:

 

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, Physician @ Whole Woman’s Health:

 

Andrea Ferrigno, Corporate Vice President:

 

Marva Sadler, Director of Clinical Services:

 

You can watch the rally in its entirety here and scroll down for the entire list of speakers!

Below is the complete list of speakers:

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#WeWereThere One Week Ago, Today.

It has been one week since we rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court while the Justices heard our case against Texas HB2. We are still so full of love and hope from that amazing day, and are thankful to everyone who came out!

We’ve been saying all along that while HB2 started in Texas, it has national implications. We know this from the 40+ amicas briefs submitted to support our cause, that ranged from personal stories and statements from municipalities and leading medical organizations. We know this from the stories we hear in our clinics every day, the callers who try all they might – end up falling through the cracks.

We especially saw the national implications leading up to the oral arguments as the Fifth Circuit court of appeals upheld the same admitting privileges law in Louisiana, shuttering all but one clinic. And most recently we know this from the news that Google searches for self-abortion have skyrocketed in the past years, as TRAP restrictions have increased across the country.

It was nothing short of unreal to have the Supreme Court Justices discuss the merits of our case against Texas. They asked pointed questions showing recognition of the injustice many Texans now face because of their status and zip code.

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We were also given hope that they understood our plight – the plight of abortion providers who are hanging on by a thread, jumping through every harmful, medically unnecessary, state-mandated hoop, just to stay open and to provide care.

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We also silently cheered as the justices grilled Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller, Esq., on what seemed to be on behalf of every woman and person ever scorned by a TRAP law.

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Regardless of these exchanges, we were confident that whatever game the Justices brought we’d be able to handle it because The Center for Reproductive Rights was on our side and we had Stephanie Toti defending us!

Thank You

But, as much as we all wished to have been inside the Supreme Court during these arguments, to have basked in the glow of Justices RBG, Kagan, and Sotomayor, the vast majority of us were outside in what was clearly an equally life-giving event – the Rally to Protect Abortion Access!

For FOUR HOURS we joined some of the fiercest, most inspiring reproductive rights and justice advocates across the country and the awesomeness never. let. up.

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“I am proud to be able to talk to patients in their preferred language, to listen to them and hold their hand. I have the privilege to sit next to women as they share their stories with me, and honor their most inner struggles with spirituality, fear, love, life, and parenthood.” -Andrea Ferrigno, corporate vice president of Whole Woman’s Health

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“I am proud to stand here today and say that I provide abortions with Whole Woman’s Health in Texas. I have grown up in that state and know what it’s like when your government considers you unworthy of dignity, respect, and equality. Unfortunately, things only seem to get worse for Texans who are women, undocumented, gay or lesbian, queer, trans, a person of color, low-income, or part of any marginalized group. Many of us may think this case is only about abortion in Texas. But it is about all of us. These laws are a clear indication that they think we don’t matter, that our lives are less than.”  -Dr. Bhavik Kumar

 

More photos from the rally:

 

Below is the complete list of speakers:

 

 

If you missed the rally, or would like to watch it again, click here🙂

 

Photo Credits: Lorie Shaull, @mikemorganfoto

 

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“I’ve learned to be stronger by witnessing their strength” – Andrea Ferrigno’s speech on the steps of the Supreme Court

Good Morning Everyone,

My name is Andrea Ferrigno, I am the corporate vice president for Whole Woman’s Health. Like my colleagues here to, we are grateful that so many of you have come to bear witness as we bring our case to the Supreme Court. It’s been quite a journey.

As a Hispanic immigrant from Latin America, I have witnessed firsthand the grave importance of having access to safe, legal abortion care in an environment where women’s voices matter. That is why I am committed to this work both on a professional and personal level.

I have done just about every job at Whole Woman’s Health, and I can tell you what it means to provide compassionate, quality abortion care. to do this work in Texas, where so many Latinas and immigrants like me are struggling to get the health care we need, is personal.

I am proud to be able to talk to patients in their preferred language, to listen to them and hold their hand. I have the privilege to sit next to women as they share their stories with me, and honor their most inner struggles with spirituality, fear, love, life and parenthood.

I am truly humbled and inspired by their resilience.

But I have also seen firsthand how laws like HB2 can force clinics to shut down. I’ve had to sign the construction orders for costly work to comply with medically unnecessary TRAP regulations.

Not only have they tried to shut down our clinics, they’ve tried to stop us from creating the warm and friendly atmosphere our patients deserve. They want to make our spaces cold, sterile, and scary. I watched with sadness as they told us we could no longer provide the soothing space our patients are grateful for. Again, there is no medical reason for these rules. Instead, they are simply a way for politicians to reach in and interfere with how we provide care, with how we show women that we love them, value them, and trust them.

I think about the woman that on the phone begged me to see her even though our clinic was shut down by this law, I still hear her desperation telling me: “Please, please, I won’t tell anyone. Why won’t you help me, please?!’

Or the woman that became pregnant while starting her chemotheraphy treatment for ovarian cancer. Her own physician refused to help her terminate the pregnancy because of fear of repercussion from the anti-choice board members of his hospital. She came to us the day HB2 was enacted and we couldn’t see her.

There are so many stories just as compelling, and it is by listening to women’s stories that I’ve learned to be a better person; I’ve been humbled by their wisdom, and I’ve learned to be stronger by witnessing their strength. I share their frustration and pain on a personal level, because it is impossible to ignore this injustice. We have to remember that these laws don’t end abortions, it ends safe abortions.

Every day I see the impact of onerous, medially unnecessary abortion restrictions on the lives of the women who come to our clinics.

But working for Whole Woman’s Health, I’ve also seen what is possible. What it looks like to respect and support our patients and provide compassionate care. It is transformations and is the reason why we are here today. I look forward to the Supreme Court deciding on the side of justice so that I can keep doing the work that I love.

I stated 16 years ago that this is my calling, what God would want me to do. I’m not stopping, are you?

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We Stand in the Light: Amy Hagstrom Miller’s Speech at the Supreme Court

It is an honor it is for me to stand here with you today. I am grateful to everyone who has come before me; the abortion providers who have paved the way and stood up for what is right, even when it is not easy; and the activists demanding dignity and justice whose shoulders I stand on today. Thank you.

To all of you who have supported Whole Woman’s Health and our co-plaintiffs Reproductive Services, Austin Women’s Health Center, Dr. Lynn, Dr. Richter and Dr. Davis. Thank you.

Another big thank you goes to The Center for Reproductive Rights. The Center is full of fierce advocates who work all over the world to ensure that women have access to safe abortion care. It is to them that we all owe a giant round of applause.

My final, and deeply heartfelt thanks goes out to my husband Karl and my two children who are here with us today. I thank them for their patience, for their love and for their belief in me and in our cause.

I’d like to invite the Whole Woman’s folks here today to come stand with me. While they make their way up here, let’s give a loud shout out to the Whole Woman’s Health team members all across the country. This is a phenomenal group of women and men and it is my joy to have some of them here with me today to receive this love from you.

As you can imagine, this has been one of the most challenging, difficult and intense 3 years of our lives.

We have fought like hell and done our best to push back on the bully politicians in Texas. We have chosen to open the doors of all of our clinics in an unprecedented way – inviting documentarians and reporters into our clinics – to meet our staff and physicians and experience the Whole Woman’s Health way.  Every time, we see the stigma of abortion melting away as we share openly and honestly about the work that we do. Through these open doors we are changing the way people think about abortion care in this country. After all, we have nothing to hide and we stand in the light.

Just look at all of you!

Many of you took off work, got on buses from all across the country, arranged childcare; I see some of us have brought our kids along!

And you’ve come here in the cold to stand, UNITED for abortion access. Thank you for making the journey.

But here’s the sad part: however far you traveled, however tough it was, for most of you, coming here today was nothing compared to what a woman in Texas goes through to get an abortion.

And that’s what today is all about.

If the Supreme Court does not put an end to HB 2, Texas women will continue to suffer. And make no mistake: what happens in Texas will not stay in Texas. The bully politicians who passed HB2 have counterparts in nearly every state who want nothing less than for abortion to be completely illegal. They are determined to shut down our clinics and cut women off from care.

We cannot – we WILL NOT allow that to happen.
We’re fighting for the day when all women have access to compassionate reproductive health care like we provide at our Whole Woman’s Health clinics. We are fighting to build a better world for all of us.

I want to help close today’s events by inviting you to join me in envisioning that better world, to share with you my dream for the future of Texas and all across the USA.
I dream that the people who provide abortions will be seen and respected as the human rights workers and medical professionals that we are. That we will be able to go to work without worrying about how we will keep our doors open to serve our patients and our communities, without bulletproof vests.

I dream that those who seek abortion will have the information they need and high-quality holistic care they deserve. I dream that a woman will be able to walk into a clinic without having to worry whether her insurance will cover abortion, without having had to travel hundreds of miles, without a protester screaming in her face.

I dream of a world where no woman comes into my clinics thinking she is the only person who has had an abortion. Thinking she is the only Christian that has had an abortion. Thinking she is the only good mother who had an abortion.

I dream that every one of us who has decided to end a pregnancy will be respected, supported, and feel secure in the knowledge that we are not alone.

Yes, today we stand up against politicians who have tried to push abortion out of reach. We stand in opposition to HB2 and any law like it that shuts down clinics, forces women to delay care, or creates obstacles to abortion.

But we also stand for something: we stand here to affirm that women are good, to affirm that women are moral and kind. To affirm that when a woman has decided to end a pregnancy, we can witness her dreams and her aspirations and affirm that she is put on this Earth to see them out and to act on her own gifts.

That is the world we stand for, and it is the world we will create together.

 

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

Lead plaintiff in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

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Our Favorite Moments from WWH v. Hellerstedt Oral Arguments, with GIFs!

It’s safe to say that this past Wednesday will be forever held dearly in our hearts. We had the opportunity to share our mission with the Supreme Court in defense of the human rights Texas women and all people of reproductive ability should be guaranteed. The Rally at the Supreme Court to Protect Abortion Access was beyond inspiring and life giving, and while there will definitely be more on that to come – for now we’d like to highlight our favorite exchanges that occurred within the Court during oral arguments. For added context, we’ve paired each with a gif (naturally).

You can also listen to the whole exchange here or read it here.

 

First the hearing started off with Stephanie Toti:

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There was some major  back and forth between most of the Justices and Stephanie Toti in regards to what *actual proof* there was to support that the Texas clinics that closed actually did so because of the laws. Finally, Justice Kagan shut it down:

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Although, some of our favorite parts of the arguments were between the Justices and Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller. Like this one between he and Justice Sotomayor:

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…and this one:

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…and this one

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We also fangirled over each moment when the lady Justices were on their game, proving why this whole HB2 thing is complete nonsense that just needs to end:

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And other times when you could tell the guys were starting to get it, like ‘oh wait, this actually doesn’t make any sense at all.’

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There were also a few real zingers thrown in there, showing that the high court can determine the direction of our country while maintaining a sparkling sense of humor.

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At the end of it all, we are confident that our argument resonated with the Justices – thanks to statements like this:

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…and this:

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…and because it’s clear we had the best lawyer and legal team in Stephanie Toti and The Center for Reproductive Rights that a lead plaintiff could ask for🙂

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Countdown to SCOTUS: Three quotes that show why WWH v. Hellerstedt matters for blue states, too.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt started in Texas with HB 2. It’s the story of compounding restrictions and legislation, legal caveats that chip away and dissolve a constitutional right. This story is most often told in red states like Texas, North Dakota, and Mississippi.
It would be a mistake to think that the compounded attack on abortion access neatly holds itself within red state borders, leaving more liberal states to continue their role as progressive beacons. One would need to look no further than what’s happened in Ohio to see that’s just not the case, or read any (but hopefully all) of the quotes below from amicus briefs filed on our behalf from blue cities and states across the country.

 

“Amici also have an interest in ensuring that each State satisfies its constitutional obligation to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy within its borders. Residents of the Amici States should be able to exercise their constitutional rights in any State to which they may travel. Moreover, a substantial reduction in the availability of abortion services in one State is likely to cause some women to seek services in other States, thereby potentially limiting the regulatory choices available to those States and burdening their health-care systems.”
 
 
 
“..in analyzing the extent of the burden imposed by the ASC and admitting-privileges requirements as applied to women in El Paso, the Fifth Circuit erred by considering the availability of abortion services in the neighboring State of New Mexico. This Court should reject that approach because it misapprehends the fundamental principle, affirmed by the Court in analogous contexts, that each State bears  an independent obligation to ensure that its laws do not infringe the constitutional rights of persons within its borders. By disregarding this principle, the Fifth Circuit validated restrictions that effectively deny women the ability to access abortion services in their home State and force them to travel elsewhere to access those services.”
 
 
 
“Even if women are not deterred or prevented from seeking abortions by the absence of nearby clinics, the burden of restrictive state abortion laws is not geographically confined. The spill-over harms extend to cities and counties where clinics remain open—both in states that have enacted restrictive laws and in neighboring states without similar restrictions. An influx of women seeking time-sensitive abortion services at a diminishing number of clinics and hospitals will jeopardize timely access to vital reproductive healthcare to millions of amici’s residents.
 
 
 
This is neither hyperbole nor speculation. In some parts of the country, practical access to legal abortion services may already be worse today—some states are down to only one abortion clinic—than at any point since this Court recognized a constitutional right for women to choose abortion in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)”

Please join us this week as we stand up for abortion access for Texans and for residents in red states AND blue states. Show your support on social media by changing your profile picture or joining the Thunderclap – and watch the live stream of the Rally at the Supreme Court to Protect Abortion Access here!