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

Today’s new lawsuit filing challenges ban on safest, most common method in second trimester abortionLet me start by saying, here we go again.

One year after our historic Whole Woman’s Health victory, we find ourselves filing the second post HB2 lawsuit we have had to file in less than a year’s time. It is absurd, that even in the wake of our powerful SCOTUS victory, we had a Texas legislative session this year where politicians introduced more than 45 bills to try and further restrict women’s access to abortion care. And if that wasn’t enough, Texas politicians are amid a Special Session of the legislature right now where many additional bills are on the docket. It seems that bigoted, anti-woman, aggressive politicians will stop at nothing these days. Frankly, it is shocking and I know many of you share my commitment to resistance. This can never become normal; we must all stay shocked.

When Senate Bill 8 passed into law in Texas, women were faced with yet another attempt by politicians to undermine our equality and try to control our bodies by restricting our constitutional right to safe abortion care. Let’s be clear, politicians, not doctors, are pushing for these restrictions, and they undermine the ability of health care professionals like Whole Woman’s Health to provide the individualized care that’s right for each of our patients. Doctors and major medical groups like ACOG all oppose this ban; and of course they do, it is a law that makes it illegal for doctors to use their expertise to do what is right for the women they serve.  This threatens the safety of women, and punishes doctors for using their best medical judgment.

SB8 is evidence of the zealots’ crusade to make full equality out of reach for Texan women, and we will not stand for it. They know they can’t make abortion illegal, but since 2010, they have passed countless laws restricting access to abortion so much that it is simply out of reach for a very large percentage of people. In fact, in January 2017 Texas Rep Swanson, the only female member of Texas’ so called Freedom Caucus, was quoted as saying, “The time to end abortion is here.”

Today I say, enough is enough Texas. Whole Woman’s Health clinics are here to stay and we will continue to fight for the women we serve. Access to safe abortion care is a human rights issue; reproductive freedom for women is about equality, self-determination and autonomy. We cannot let our opposition try to say it is otherwise or pretend that they have our best interests in mind.

Our dignity, and our very lives are at stake, and Whole Woman’s Health is here to step up once again for Texans. We are not going to accept these attacks as our new normal. We will never agree to sit idly by, allowing Texas politicians, who don’t care about women’s rights and autonomy, determine how and when we make our own private and personal decisions.

Whole Woman’s Health is honored to lead another fight in the courts for we firmly believe that all of us are lifted up when the women in our communities have true and full equality.

Thank you.

Read the official filing for Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton. 

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A new ending to Amelia Earhart’s story

Amelia Earhart

At Whole Woman’s Health, our mission is larger than healthcare – we are here to make the world a better place for the women we know now and those who will follow in our footsteps. We honor women’s voices and stories and know they are an important part of our history.

In our offices, we have named each room in the facility after a woman we admire – so instead of having your pap smear in Exam Room #1, you can have it in the Eleanor Roosevelt room. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart also has a room named after her.

Earhart’s name has been in the news recently, as another piece to her life’s puzzle may have been discovered.

Earhart took her first solo flight in 1921, and was asked in 1928 to join two pilots on a flight to England, making her the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane.

In 1932, she flew over the Atlantic on her own, and set a record of doing it in 13 hours and 30 minutes. Years later, she became the first woman to make the flight from Hawaii to California.

In June 1937, Earhart began what was to be her final flight. Along with navigator Fred Noonan, they set out in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra in an attempt to fly around the world. However, after departing Lae, New Guinea for Howland Island, the U.S. Coast Guard lost contact with the plane. They received a final message on July 2 at 8:45 a.m., and Amelia’s tone was described as frantic. The United States Navy searched extensively but never found a trace of the aviators or the plane.

Last week, the History Channel aired “Amelia Earhart: Finding the Lost Evidence”, which suggests she may have been captured by the Japanese after a newly-unearthed photograph from the National Archives showed what researchers claim are the pilot and her navigator in Jaluit Harbor in the Marshall Islands after their disappearance.

The photo, which is difficult to see given its age, shows two figures resembling Earhart and Noonan. In the far background, there appears to be a barge carrying the remains of a crashed aircraft.

While there are still other theories about Earhart’s final days, the photograph is some of the most exciting evidence to come from this cold case in years.

No matter what, Earhart’s legacy will continue to be one of bravery and courageousness, and for that, she will always be someone we look up to.

Birth Control: An Overview

There are several different types of birth control out there, but deciding which kind (if any) is right for you takes time, research, and thought. If you’re interested in birth control, our physicians and staff will work with you to find a good fit for your contraceptive needs.

As a quick overview, below are some common forms of birth control you may consider using. One isn’t necessarily better than another, it just depends on what is right for you.

Hormonal IUD: IUDs are small, nearly undetectable, and prevent pregnancy for at least one year (sometimes up to five years). Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing a very small amount of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel each day. The progestin acts locally in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Non-Hormonal IUD: Non-hormonal IUDs prevents pregnancy thanks to a tiny copper filament wrapped around the T (the shape of the IUD). We offer both the Paragard (non-hormonal) and Mirena (hormonal) IUDs. Call us for more information about these methods.

Implant: The implant is a very small rod inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm to provide birth control. It’s invisible and prevents pregnancy for up to 4 years.

The Shot: Sometimes called “Depo”, the shot is an injection of the hormone progestin that provides birth control for three months. It can be administered at home or by a healthcare professional.

The Patch: The patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square bandage. It’s easy to use and works like the pill, but you only need to change your patch once a week.

The Pill: Combination birth control pills are a daily medication that contains two hormones (estrogen and progestin) to prevent pregnancy.

The Ring: The ring is a small, flexible piece of plastic that’s inserted into the vagina to provide birth control. It works like the pill, but only needs to be inserted once a month.

Condom: Condoms are one of the most popular forms of birth control out there. They slip over the penis to prevent pregnancy and lower the risk of STIs by keeping sperm inside the condom and out of the vagina.

Internal Condom: Sometimes called a female condom, is a pouch you insert into your vagina. It is a method that gives you lots of control. Internal condoms work the same way that condoms do, except that you wear one on the inside instead of on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of your vagina.

Diaphragm: A diaphragm is a dome-shaped, silicone cup that’s inserted in the vagina hours before sex to prevent pregnancy. To work effectively, it needs to be used with spermicide to block sperm from reaching eggs.

Cervical Cap: A cervical cap is a silicone cup you insert in your vagina to cover your cervix and keep sperm out of your uterus. To work effectively, it needs to be used with spermicide.

The Sponge: The sponge is a small piece of white plastic foam that’s inserted in the vagina. It can be inserted up to 24 hours before sex.

Spermicide: Spermicide is a chemical that you put deep into your vagina right before sex. Spermicide can be used by itself, or combined with other birth control methods.

Emergency Contraception: Morning-after pills can be used after sex to stop a pregnancy before it starts. Most brands and generic pills are available at stores without a prescription. You can also pick up emergency contraception (Plan B) at any of our clinic locations.

If you have questions about birth control methods and would like to talk to someone and/or schedule an appointment to meet with one of our physicians, call our EmpowerLine at 877-835-1090.

Counseling at Whole Woman’s Health

We know that healthcare doesn’t just mean taking care of your body—it requires care for the heart and the mind, as well. We specialize in woman-centered, non-judgmental counseling. Our counselors will listen to you, and respect your values.

Our counseling services are either free of charge, or very affordable, depending on the nature and length of the counseling session. Please call us if you’d like to arrange a designated time to talk.

We provide the following categories of counseling sessions. These can be attended either by yourself, or with a support person:

Pregnancy Options Counseling

Facing an unplanned pregnancy can raise some complex issues, regardless of what you decide. Some women just need to talk through the decision with someone outside their life. Other women know what they plan to do about the pregnancy, but need to talk to someone about issues related to the decision, like relationships, values, or personal development. No matter what’s on your mind, we want to help you approach the abortion decision with a calm spirit and a healthy heart.

Special-Case Abortion Counseling

At Whole Woman’s Health, we understand that there are many reasons why a woman might have an abortion. Some of our staff have been working with women in the abortion field for most of their lives. We have skilled counselors who are able to discuss the most difficult situations, from fetal anomalies to domestic abuse and rape crisis intervention. We’re confident that we can help you through this difficult time, and help you come to a peaceful decision.

Post-Abortion Counseling

While many women do not experience difficult feelings following their abortion, some do, and it is important to acknowledge these feelings as part of the healing process. We understand that a decision can be right and still be sad. We are here to listen and offer support.

Local Counseling and Therapy Referrals

Please contact us for a list of pro-choice, woman-centered therapists in your area who can provide you with longer-term individual or couples counseling.

Feel free to call our EmpowerLine at 877.835.1090 to talk, get questions answered, or to schedule an appointment at any of our clinic locations.

Official Statement from Whole Woman’s Health on SB8

Senate Bill 8 is an omnibus anti-abortion bill that Governor Abbott signed on June 6, and it goes into effect September 2017.

SB 8 furthers the stigma around abortion. This bill requires unnecessary restrictions and puts forward the false notion that abortion care medicine, including the people who provide abortions and the women who need them, require onerous monitoring and regulatory interference by the state.

SB8 bans D&E (dilation and evacuation) procedures used in abortion care – it is one of the safest and most common outpatient procedures; bans the donation of fetal and embryonic tissue for medical research; requires monthly reporting, as opposed to the current yearly reporting requirement for abortion statistics – this adds unnecessary administrative burdens on physicians; and requires fetal and embryonic tissue to be buried and cremated by medical providers.

At Whole Woman’s Health, we have a history of fighting back for our patients and their right to safe, legal abortions. Our supreme court victory last summer in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case gives us a strong ground to stand on in Texas and across the country.

What we continue to see over and over again is that overzealous politicians continue to play with women’s lives and this has to stop. Texans deserve better.

Just four days after our historic Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt win, the Department of State and Health Services tried to pass a fetal cremation administrative rule that would further stigmatize abortion and served as a clear defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision in our case.

In January 2017, we sued the state of Texas over the Department of State and Health Services regulations that required the burial or cremation of fetal and embryonic tissue, just like in SB8. Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the lower court’s stay to the 5th Circuit.

As always Whole Woman’s Health will lead Texas in providing high quality abortion care services across the state, and in challenging bad laws that harm women whenever we need to. Texans deserve the dignity to make their own healthcare decisions and this includes access to safe, legal and compassionate abortion care.

Despite the passing of SB8 and the potential litigation that may follow, we want to let Texans know that abortion is still legal in Texas, up to 20 weeks and that Whole Woman’s Health is still providing safe, compassionate abortion care services in our McAllen, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio clinics.

The signing of the law does not make any immediate changes. If you have an appointment for an abortion or are needing one, know that nothing has changed yet. If you have any questions regarding your appointment, feel free to call our EmpowerLine at 877-835-1090.

Even though this law is scheduled to go into effect in a few months, we will not sit idly by and are committed to fighting all laws that strip women from making personal healthcare decisions. We will continue to advocate for our patients and educate our communities about these laws and how they negatively impact Texans.

SB 8: What it means for Texas Abortion Providers

The Texas Capitol

The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill on Friday, May 26, and is now on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk awaiting his signature in order to become law. While this legislative session began with 30+ anti-abortion bills, SB 8 is the most important anti-abortion bill to come out of the Texas legislature since 2013.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Perry called a special session to ensure House Bill 2 passed. Whole Women’s Health challenged the constitutionality of HB 2 and that lawsuit made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down portions of the bill June 27, 2016, concluding that benefits of medical laws have to justify the burdens they impose on women.

SB 8 is sponsored by state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and was originally introduced to ban the donation or sale of fetal tissue, and prohibit “partial-birth abortion” (non-medical term), medically called a D and X procedure, which is already banned by federal law.

However, when SB 8 went through the house chamber, several additional amendments were added to the bill. In addition to banning intact D and X, and prohibiting the sale or donation of embryonic or fetal tissue, SB 8 now requires embryonic or fetal tissue to be buried or cremated, requires monthly electronic reporting from the abortion physician, excludes ectopic pregnancies from the legal definition of abortion, and criminalizes the use of surgical instruments to cause fetal demise in a D and E abortion procedure.

So, what does this all mean? Here’s a breakdown:

Bans Intact D and X

SB 8 prohibits physicians from performing the intact dilation and evacuation (D and X) abortion procedure, often referred to as “partial-birth abortion” (non-medical term). This type of abortion procedure is already illegal, based on federal law (Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003).

Prohibits the sale or donation of embryonic or fetal tissue

SB 8 prohibits a person from donating human fetal tissue, placenta, or an umbilical cord, and prohibits a person from offering to buy, offering to sell, acquiring, receiving, selling, or otherwise transferring human fetal tissue for money. Fetal tissue has been used in medical research since the 1930s, often for developing vaccines, and studying disease and terminal illnesses. Federal law already bans the sale of fetal tissue for profit (National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993).

Requires Embryonic or fetal tissue to be buried or cremated

The bill codifies into law regulations adopted by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requiring tissue from abortions and miscarriages to be buried or cremated, and ban facilities that provide abortion services from using standard methods of disposal.

In January, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas from implementing these regulations, as they offer no medical benefit to women. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if these requirements can go into effect while there is pending litigation on a similar bill.

Requires monthly electronic reporting by the physician

SB 8 includes additional reporting requirements for abortion providers, who would be required to provide monthly, electronic reports to the DSHS. This amendment to the bill changed the original requirement of annual reporting to now require monthly reporting, which adds administrative burdens onto individual physicians. This part of the bill also requires use of an electronic reporting system which has yet to be created.

Legal definition of “Abortion” excludes removal of ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than the uterus. If not treated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding, infection, and sometimes death. If a woman undergoes surgery to have an ectopic pregnancy removed, it is not considered an abortion (using this bill’s definition).

Criminalizes D and E Abortion Procedure

SB 8 includes a ban on “dismemberment abortion” (non-medical term) unless the procedure is, “necessary in a medical emergency.” The ban targets the dilation and evacuation, known as a D and E, procedure commonly used for second-trimester miscarriages and abortions. The D and E is the safest, most-common second-trimester abortion procedure and would be a crime under SB 8, making second-trimester abortion less accessible for Texas women. Currently, similar bans in Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Kansas are blocked, while a similar measure in West Virginia was vetoed.

While many of these amendments won’t affect daily life at our clinic locations or for our patients, it is worth noting that no part of this bill makes a currently safe procedure any safer. Sponsors of this bill openly admitted that it has nothing to do with women’s health, but instead is part of a strategy to end legal abortion in Texas.

Ft. Worth: Comedy for Access, Clinic Beautification

Andrea Ferrigno, Lizz Winstead, Amy Hagstrom-Miller, and Eunice.

Last week, our staff members from Whole Woman’s Health joined forces with those on “The Vagical Mystery Tour” – Co-Creator of “The Daily Show” Lizz Winstead, Comedian and Actor Ian Harvie, and Comedienne Joyelle Johnson – for the “Don’t Mess With Access” comedy show, which benefitted Whole Woman’s Health and their advocacy arm, Shift.

Winstead is also the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Lady Parts Justice League, which is a reproductive rights organization that uses humor to fight back against anti-choice activism and legislation.

During the “Don’t Mess With Access” comedy show, ticket holders got a chance to hear some diverse (and hilarious) comedy, sign up for mailing lists to get involved in the cause and get merchandise from Lady Parts Justice League, Whole Woman’s Health and Shift.

After the show, Winstead moderated a talkback with TEA Fund Executive Director Nan Kirkpatrick, Whole Woman’s Health Corporate Vice President Andrea Ferrigno, and Whole Woman’s Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom-Miller.

The following day, Lady Parts Justice League volunteers, including Winstead, Harvie and Johnson, visited our Whole Woman’s Health Ft. Worth clinic location to plant shrubs outside and around the building. They also coordinated lunch for the entire clinic staff, that was provided by Deep Cuts Butcher Shop in Dallas.

While in Ft. Worth, reporters and videographers sat down with Hagstrom-Miller for video and audio footage to contribute to The Story Exchange, a non-profit digital media project showcasing entrepreneurial women around the world. We are looking forward to hearing Amy’s voice added to this database of extraordinary women!

We owe a giant thank you to Lizz and the Lady Parts Justice League for making these events so powerful for everyone. In just two days, our staff met so many new people, had lots of fun, and put in work to continue our mission to provide quality, accessible abortion care to women around the world.