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

Report: 46% of Texas Abortion Facilities Have Closed Between April 2013 and April 2014

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This GIF shows what House Bill 2 has done to access for women’s health and what it will do when September 1st comes (image courtesy of Mother Jones).

In a new report that is the first study done on the effects of House Bill 2 since it passed last year, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) has found that 46% of abortion facilities have closed statewide since June 2013. The study also found that the rate of abortion procedures in the state has also dropped by 13%, a significant decrease that is much steeper than any recent declines in abortion rates anywhere else in the nation. TxPEP surmises that this sharp decline is due to the decimation of abortion access in Texas overall:

The 13% decline in the state abortion rate over the past year, which corresponds to 9,200 fewer abortions annually, is steeper than recent declines in both Texas and the nation. The authors hypothesize that part of this reduction is due to the closure of clinics throughout the state, generally because of doctors’ inability to obtain hospital admitting privileges. Between April 2013 and April 2014, 46% of facilities providing abortion closed, leaving large areas of the state without a clinic. All of the clinics south of San Antonio have closed, and all but one have closed in West Texas.

Another part of TxPEP’s findings was an increase in the amount of Texas women who live 100 miles or more from the nearest abortion clinic. The number has gone from 217,000 women in May of 2013 to an astounding 1,020, 000 in April of 2014. The most shocking finding out of this information is that, after all clinics have to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center on September 1st and all but 6 clinics in the entire state will shut down, the number of women living 100 miles or more away from an abortion clinic in Texas will rise to 1, 335, 000.

Overall, the new report from TxPEP shows that access to abortion has decreased just as we predicted would happen when the study began last year. With the influx of women traveling long distances to the remaining open clinics and overloading the existing infrastructure that providers have, wait times, cost, and lack of enough funding force women into unwanted pregnancies. Many are faced with barriers to access already with the destruction of family planning budgets across the state, and as the number of clinics in Texas dwindle down to single digits, it’s no wonder that the rate of abortion procedures is following suit.

You can read the abstract on the study here, as well as an extremely in-depth analysis on the study here from RH Reality Check.

As the damage that House Bill 2 has inflicted on women in Texas becomes more and more apparent, Whole Woman’s Health will be here to advocate and care for these women in the facilities that remain open. You can donate to the Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates from us on how we’re helping women access safe, affordable abortion care.