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.

dog space confused zero gravity i have no idea what im doing

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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rage anime

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

confused decision larry david conflicted

nicki minaj what confused wut huh

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

reaction obama confused wut huh

But seriously, the suspense.

community frustrated upset shirley the lord is testing me

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.

tim burton eye roll beetlejuice halloween movie miss argentina

viola davis how to get away with murder unimpressed

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.

mind blown cecily strong

tired sleepy sleep hamster

tired i'm tired

parks and recreation amy poehler drinking beer alcohol

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.

Fox TV empire cookie lyon shoe porsha

Empire FOX empire season 2 premiere 2x01

Fox TV empire finale cookie cookie lyon

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

snl no maya rudolph nsfw not safe for work

beyonce attitude

yes celebrate celebrating jane the virgin woo hoo

Lisa Vertudaches animation happy pink bunny

dancing jimmy fallon kevin bacon footloose kevin bacon tonight show

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

giphy

Whole Woman’s Health Testifies Against TX HB 1648

House Committee on State Affairs

Joint Testimony in Opposition to HB 1648

On Behalf of Trust Respect Access Coalition

Submitted by Whole Woman’s Health

April 29, 2015

Chairman Cook and members of the State Affairs Committee,

My name is Fatimah Gifford, I am the Director of Public Relations for Whole Woman’s Health, and I am here today to testify on behalf of the Trust Respect Access coalition, a group of diverse organizations working to support policies that restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals, and access to safe, timely abortion care. We are testifying today in opposition to HB 1648

While HB 1648 may have the intention to bring the very serious matter of coercion to the surface, this bill not only perpetuates the widely debunked and dangerous myths about abortion, it also makes inaccurate assumptions about the decision making process women undergo when facing an unplanned pregnancy as well as the professional guidelines providers adhere to when offering this medical care. Additionally, this bill contains unnecessary provisions that dramatically contribute to abortion stigma before and after a woman’s abortion procedure.

Under the guise of anti-coercion and the protection of human trafficking victims, Representative White presents this bill as a response to outdated studies that lack proven scientific data.

The studies often used to substantiate this legislation have been presented without any clear citation to a peer-reviewed scientific analysis, and furthermore, the scientific community has discredited these studies’ findings. Studies that contain inaccurate data should not inform the practice of medicine, nor should they be the basis of legislation. Misinformation does not promote women’s health or safety.

Provisions that require several large posters to be posted in medical facilities and require physicians and health center staff to deliver redundant verbal notices are not only unnecessary but will create an environment hostile to a woman making this very private and personal decision. Texas women should be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves or their family. Women already receive numerous state mandated materials about their options and must sign multiple state mandated documents to verify medical consent prior to the procedure. 

Various findings in peer-reviewed studies on abortion outcomes, including the American Psychological Association, have concluded that the abortion procedure itself does not cause harm to women, but instead it is laws that stigmatize women and attempt to shame them.

HB 1648 offers solutions to non-existent problems. Abortion providers regularly screen each patient for coercion, human trafficking, domestic violence, and other concerns as part of our thorough counseling and screening process. Abortion care providers and the domestic violence community have proudly worked together for decades to ensure the rights and physical autonomy of women and we have an impeccable record of service.

Abortion care providers foster a judgment-free, safe and compassionate space for our patients and their families to discuss their decisions privately and confidentially. With current procedures in place, each patient routinely undergoes a one-on-one counseling visit prior to their procedure, wherein they consent to their abortion and proclaim if they are making their decision free of coercion or force. If at any time during a woman’s visit, she states that she does not want the procedure, abortion providers will not perform the abortion. Regardless of a woman’s decision to have an abortion, providers equip them with the proper resources and referrals needed. And in cases of domestic violence, abortion providers already utilize and refer women to professional resources in an expeditious manner. 

For these reasons, we respectfully urge this committee to oppose HB 1648. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to share these remarks.

Respectfully,

Fatimah Gifford

Director of Public Relations, Whole Woman’s Health

On behalf of the Trust Respect Access Coalition

Whole Woman’s Health: Texas Policy Evaluation Project Briefing Coverage

Yesterday, Whole Woman’s Health along with NARAL Pro Choice Texas and the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, held a briefing at the Capitol to publicize the impact that cuts in family planning and restrictions on access to abortion care services have had on women in the state of Texas. Representative Jessica Farrar also revealed her intent to file a repeal bill to eliminate the forced 24 hour waiting period between an ultrasound and their procedure.

There has been a lot of press about the briefing and the repeal bill. I have pasted below links to a number of articles that are covering this story along with a link to Capitol Tonight which aired lastnight and featured clips from the briefing and an interview with Dr. Grossman and Dr. Potter from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Capitol Tonight

 

RH Reality Check Article: Bill to Eliminate waiting period for abortion

 

The Statesman: Abortion Wars Heating Up

 

Austin Chronicle: Farrar: Repeal 24 Hour Waiting Period

 

KXAN: Lawmaker seeks to Overturn Abortion Waiting Period

 

Texas Tribune: Representative seeks to repeal abortion restriction

 

KVUE: New bill would repeal abortion bill of 2011