Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller: “Today, my heart is filled with hope”

Hello, My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. We are the lead plaintiff in this case. I own and operate 8 high quality independent abortion care clinics in 5 states – Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Maryland.

Today is an exciting day for Whole Woman’s Health. We have been fighting this draconian law since 2013. After a series of appeals and emergency injunctions, here we are today, having heard from the highest court of the land that they will hear our case. I want to thank the Center for Reproductive Rights for continuing to partner with our organization in our continued fight to stand up for the reproductive rights for the women of Texas.

Today, my heart is filled with hope. Although this is the first step in a much longer process, I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the rights that have been in place for four decades and reaffirm that every woman should be able to make her own decision about continuing or ending a pregnancy. I have hope for my staff members, who, for years, have poured themselves into providing Texas women with high-quality and comprehensive reproductive health care. And most of all, I have hope for the families and communities all across Texas who now may be able to get the safe and comprehensive care they need from a clinic they trust.

This law is causing real harm to women across the state of Texas, and has been since 2013 – it’s creating higher costs, longer delays, and extra steps for women seeking abortion care, and in the process punishing women for their decision to exercise their constitutional right to end a pregnancy. A woman should be able to access the safe and legal abortion services she needs regardless of her zip code.

By forcing clinics to close, Texas legislators have multiplied the barriers women face when they need an abortion. Texas women are forced to go to multiple and unnecessary visits at clinics that are now farther away, take more days off of work, losing income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation for hundreds of miles. For many women, the process of obtaining safe and legal health care has simply become unfeasible. No one should be denied safe and compassionate care based on her zip code, but that’s exactly what this law does. Legislators are effectively forcing these women to carry their pregnancies to term against their will.

Take for example a woman from Lubbock. Prior to HB 2, her community had a clinic. With the enactment of HB 2, she faced a 230 mile, 4.5 hour trip – EACH WAY – just to get a first trimester abortion. She was a working, single mother of 3 without healthcare. She faced layers of barriers – including find gas money for the drive and child care for the day she would be away. In the end she was pushed into the later second trimester and finally was unable to obtain the abortion she wanted.

Or take for another example a woman who visited our McAllen clinic on the Texas-Mexico border. Unfortunately she was scheduled for an appointment the day after HB 2 first went into effect. After HB 2 her appointment was immediately canceled. She was devastated by the absurdity of this law – noting immediately that if she had come just yesterday the same MD and staff would have been able to help her. She reached out to our hotline and said: “I will terminate this pregnancy. So how about I tell you what I have in my cupboards, under my sink and in my medicine cabinet and you tell me what to use and how to use it in order to do my own abortion.”

It’s stunning to hear stories like these, but that is exactly what is at stake. If the Supreme Court does not stop this deceptive, politically driven law we will hear more stories like these.

In 2003, Whole Woman’s Health made a commitment to provide quality and holistic reproductive health care in Texas. This is a commitment we intend to keep. To the women of Texas: Now, more than ever, we are here for you. We have been betrayed by legislators and vilified by anti-choice extremists, but we are still here for you, and are confident that justice will be on our side.  We are honored to stand up for Texas women and families and bring this case to the highest court in the land.

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

30 GIFs that summarize our feelings as we wait for SCOTUS to announce if they will hear our case.

As many are aware, we have spent the last few years ping-ponging back and forth between local courts and the regional Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals fighting against the onerous HB2. Currently many abortion clinics in Texas are only open through the grace of the Supreme Court, who placed a hold on select provisions of the law. This has prevented the provisions from taking effect and has also lead to a TRAP purgatory of sorts – one in which we are both thankful for the ability to care for our patients but also spend our days in uncertainty.

Last month we petitioned SCOTUS to set a date and end this battle. On behalf of clinics in besieged states across the US, we want to know what specifically constitutes as undue burden and why aren’t lawmakers required to provide factual evidence to support their claim that these laws preserve the ‘health and safety of women’ when all research points to the contrary.

Any day now we are expecting to hear from the Supreme Court as to whether they will take our case, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole. If they do and we win – states would no longer be able to pass legislation requiring clinics and people seeking abortion care to jump through flaming hoops of bullsh*t nonsense in order to provide and access healthcare.

If the Supreme Court announces that they do not wish to hear the case, or if they do hear the case and we lose, the laws would go into effect immediately in Texas, forcing all but a handful of clinics to shut down and we would see an immediate tidal wave of similar, possibly more restrictive anti-abortion laws flood the rest of the country.

These options would majorly change how abortion care is provided and accessed in this country, and here at Whole Woman’s Health we are definitely feeling that pressure.

We’ve bitten our nails down to the bone over the last week, knowing that each day could bring a potential announcement.

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At work, it’s difficult to focus..

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Everything feels like such a struggle.

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We hate to admit it, but sometimes it’s just hard to keep it together.

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We find ourselves obsessively refreshing the SCOTUS blog for updates.

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It’s hard not to feel like this little duck family – they just want to cross the street and we just want to provide constitutionally protected, essential health care services.

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But until the decision to hear our case is announced, we will continue to float in metaphorical space just like this astronaut dog floating in actual space.

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And if SCOTUS chooses not to hear our case, forcing mass clinic shutdowns and a resulting wave of harmful trap laws this will basically be us:

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But they wouldn’t… they have to take the case… right?

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It would be silly not to. There is too much at stake, obviously.

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But seriously, the suspense.

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And the anti-choice arguments that these restrictions are to protect health and safety of women is total garbage just doesn’t cut it when you stack up the evidence.

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It’s exhausting – explaining to people that fancy buzz words that look good on paper, like ‘ambulatory surgical center’ and ‘admitting privileges’ actually decrease the quality of care and make it more difficult to operate.

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But if the announcement is made that we’ll be going to the highest court in the land, you can be confident that we’ll bring our Cookie-approved A-game to DC.

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And if we win, we’ll have a hard time holding in our excitement.

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Until then we’ll be crossing our fingers that a hopeful announcement will come in the next few days..

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Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health on Today’s Supreme Court #HB2 Stay

“Today I truly breathe a deep sigh of relief  as the the Supreme Court of the United States protected our three Whole Woman’s Health clinics in West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley from shutting their doors by partially blocking components of Texas’ omnibus anti-choice law, HB2.

I just can’t stop smiling since I heard the news an hour ago – all this work, all this time, and all this uncertainty for my team and the women that we serve. Always knowing that we stand on the right side of history, yet always being careful not to hope too much. But today we did it. We kept Texas’ clinics open. Calling my team in McAllen and my team in Fort Worth just now was so rewarding – to tell them that the clinics will stay open, and that the jobs they love so much serving women will be there for them next week and beyond. They were cheering.

As you know this law, which was recently upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court, would have had a catastrophic impact on women and families across the state of Texas. We’re relieved that the high court has, once again, prevented anti-choice politicians’ from pushing safe and affordable abortion care entirely out of reach for the women in these communities.

Let me be clear: these restrictions have nothing to do with protecting women. HB2 is anti-choice legislators’ thinly veiled attempt to make abortion unavailable and unaffordable by closing down clinics. Today’s ruling only reinforces the fact that requiring every abortion clinic to turn into a surgical center is both excessive and medically unnecessarily.

We understand that these court decisions are changing the status of this law from  day to day. We are committed to ensuring that Texas women know that abortion is still LEGAL and, despite anti-choice lawmakers’ best efforts, it is also still available. If women have questions about where they can go to end an pregnancy, I would encourage them to call our newly established hotline at 1 (877) 833-9190.

We are emboldened by the Court’s decision, but know that this fight is far from over. We will continue to stand with the women of Texas to ensure they have access to affordable abortion care when they need it. As my staff just said to me when I called them an hour ago – we will be here no matter what, we get knocked down and still we rise. We are in it for the long haul, and today is a really good day!”

 

Reflections After HB2’s 5th Circuit Court Hearing

From the thoughts of our President & CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller, following today’s 5th Circuit Court hearing on House Bill 2:

Amy Toti brief media post 5thI am very encouraged by today’s hearing. I feel like the judges paid strong attention to the evidence we put forward in district court. I feel they understood the health and welfare of the women within our Texas communities. I feel judges Elrod and Haynes particularly understood that the health and welfare of women, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, need extra protection, because having to travel upwards of 250 miles endangers women’s lives. The state’s case was extremely weak in retrospect of the undue burden perspective that it’s not a big deal for women to travel from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio.

I am not hopeful that we are going to get a ruling in our favor but am hopeful we showed that women are disproportionately affected by these medically unnecessary laws.

It’s sad that we have to turn to the courts to fight this battle, but Whole Woman’s Health will do what it takes to do right by the women who need us across Texas.

This battle is far from over, we won’t stop fighting until justice is served for the women of Texas.

We will anxiously be awaiting the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision and actively preparing to mobilize either through the legal process or in our communities to keep our doors open.

No matter what, we will continue our work to de-stigmatize abortion and women’s decisions, through education and mobilization.

And we will continue to remain open to serve women in the Southwest with our facilities in San Antonio and our new clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

HB2 Round Two: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

This week marks our return to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals as we take on the fight over House Bill 2 in New Orleans. Whole Woman’s Health is once again fighting to prevent the omnibus House Bill 2 from taking full effect to bar hundreds of thousands of women from accessing necessary health services.

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Photo credit: Jennifer Whitney/The New York Times via Redux

We are taking in this history of back-and-forth (along with many deep breaths) as we return to New Orleans and the 5th Circuit. We are interested in what this panel of three judges (two of which previously supported HB2) has to say. Will they continue to claim that a 600-mile round trip is a perfectly manageable hoop to jump through to access healthcare? We certainly hope not.

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We go forward this week with determination and hope that Texas women and families are not ignored. We also remain thankful for the support of our allies NARAL Pro-Choice TX, Progress TX, ACLU TX, the TX Freedom Network, and all of the abortion funds, activists, reporters, and supporters, as we continue to stand strong in our resolve to protect safe and legal abortion health care.