Waiting for SCOTUS: Ten memorable moments in the fight against HB2

It’s official: Monday morning we will get an answer from the Supreme Court regarding our fight against the Texas omnibus HB2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. We have been in this for three years now, ever since Wendy Davis made her historic filibuster. Now, years of small victories and devastating clinic closures are coming to some kind of an end that only Monday will tell.

Continue on to read some of our favorite moments along this journey, as we count down to the final announcement.

#10. When the ACLU of Texas accused the state of hiding evidence showing the real impact of HB2 

This happened just recently, but still deserves a spot on the list. The entire premise of the omnibus HB2, at least in the verbiage of Texas officials, was to protect ‘women’s health and safety.’ Well, the data has been collected and where is it? Have you seen it? No, and neither have we.

From the ACLU:

“The State of Texas claims that HB2 protects women’s health. If that’s true, why wouldn’t our public health agency want to trumpet its success?”

Good question.

#9 – We launched Shift., our non profit dedicated to fighting abortion stigma!

We have long touted that abortion stigma is what creates the climate for anti-choice laws to thrive. The silence and shame make room for public discourse that is harmful, full of fear, and simply untrue. Providing compassionate abortion care free of stigma has always been a cornerstone of our work at Whole Woman’s Health, and so it only made sense to expand that into a new non profit, Shift., that was launched in the spring of 2015.

 

We are proud of the work Shift. has done in just over a year – from implementing a Safe Abortion hotline for people seeking clarity on the laws and options, to a beautiful mural covering the exterior wall of Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen. Now, Shift. is looking forward and working to keep Texas clinics open, regardless of the SCOTUS outcome. Click here to help.

#8 – John Oliver’s amazing takedown of TRAP Laws

It pretty much made our year to hear our story being told in that delightful British accent. You can watch it again here:

#7 – The Truth Tour

Kicking off this past January, on the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, we embarked on a multi-city #FightBackTX Truth Tour to rally with Texas communities and remind ourselves that this is a journey that started in Texas. We were in excellent company – joined by coalition partners from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Shift., ACLU of Texas, as well as Lilith Fund, Texas Equal Access Fund, Clinic Access Support Network, South Texans for Reproductive Justice, West Fund, URGE, and more!

Over the course of those 2,000 miles, we watched students boldly perform the abortion stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign’s Out of Silence on the quad at Texas A&M. We marched down Main Street in McAllen yelling ‘BASTA!’, and we opened up our San Antonio clinic so local and national media could experience what expensive, stigmatizing, and unnecessary regulations actually looked like.

 

#6 – Listening to our physicians open up and advocate for abortion access

We don’t know a single person who works in abortion care for the paycheck. This is not a job for people who just want to punch in and out. We receive gratitude and thanks from the patients we serve and threats from people who want to make abortion illegal. Our physicians not excluded. We have been moved by their courage in coming forward and speaking openly about their work as abortion providers and are honored to work by their side.

That was my foundation: if there are no abortion providers, what’s going to happen to the women that need to access this health care, if people like me aren’t around? I’m not the only abortion provider in Texas, but there’s a small number of us, and I worried when I was in med school, if I don’t come back, who is going to provide abortions in Texas?

– Dr. Bhavik Kumar, The Texas Observer

 

Here’s where [HB2]’s intentional unworkability kicks in. To keep admitting privileges, I would have to admit a certain number of patients to the hospital. But abortion in the vast majority of cases is a simple and safe procedure, and very few patients ever require follow-up or emergency care afterward. So because the vast majority of my patients never needed follow-up care, I lost my privileges.

– Dr. Timothy Spurrell, Time

#5 – The Amicus Briefs

The Amicus, or ‘friend of the court’ briefs, are an opportunity for people to speak on behalf of us and our case, to paint for the court a full picture of the impact of these laws. The amicus briefs submitted by the Center for Reproductive Rights are some of the largest in number and breadth in the history of the Supreme Court. There are personal stories that that brought us to tears – experiences from doctors and lawyers and advocates from across the country. There are submissions from organizations we admire as well as from blue states and cities and policy makers.

These briefs are a passionate reminder that we are on the side of justice and autonomy and that this decision will have deeply personal and wide scale implications.

Click here to read the briefs.

#4 – TRAPPED

To have our struggles against these laws documented (by an amazing filmmaker, no less) and then to see them play out on the silver screen along with our colleagues throughout the South is indescribable. Yes, there were many, many tears, and we definitely experienced all the feels.

So often it seems like our efforts to stay open, to be there for our patients are invisible to those outside of abortion care. We hear it so often: ‘I had no idea this was happening until I became pregnant.’ Dawn Porter’s Trapped is a beautiful and moving answer to this problem. It has received glowing reviews from across the country, including winning the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival. Most recently, Trapped aired on PBS’ Independent Lens. You can stream the full film here.

#3 – The Rally at the Supreme Court

On the particularly chilly morning of March 2nd, we stood outside of the Supreme Court with thousands of allies and supporters, listening to stories from across the country. Yes it would have been amazing to gaze upon the glory that is RBG, but the Rally at the Supreme Court to Protect Abortion Access was an experience of a lifetime and definitely worth the trip.

 

#2 – The Oral Arguments

But also let’s be real – most of us would have given just about anything to have watched the Justices duke it out over abortion rights. And, according to the transcript and audio recordings, it was goooooooooood.

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#1 – Wendy Davis. The People’s Filibuster. The Orange Army. #FightBackTX.

This is where it started. Two special sessions. Two filibusters. A nationally trending hashtag. Those pink Mizunos. State officials said that they’ve never seen anything like it in all their time working at the Capitol.

These sessions brought new life and new faces to our movement, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without everyone who dropped what they were doing, put on their orange, and flooded the Capitol in outrage. You did this! You showed up. You fought back. And you ushered us to the Supreme Court.

Relive it again:

 

 

 

 

 

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Honorary mentions go to the SCOTUS Blog, where we will forever be #waitingforlyle, and decision day GIFs.

What do you think? Did we get it right? Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Trust. Respect. Access.

Today we, along with our coalition partners NARAL Pro-Choice TexasACLU of Texas, the Texas Research Institute, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Progress Texas, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Texas Freedom Network, are at the Texas State Capital for Advocacy Day: Trust. Respect. Access.

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We’re working with Texans from across the state to ask their legislators to support policies that restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, to restore respect for health care professionals, and to restore access to safe, timely abortion care.

In addition to our advocacy day, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of the Trust. Respect. Access. website: trustrespectaccess.org. Here you’ll find more detailed information about our campaign, how legislative ignorance impacts Texans’ ability to provide and access necessary healthcare, and ways we can come together and move toward a better Texas!

Whole Woman’s Health is committed to changing the conversation around abortion, building a movement for reproductive freedom and pushing for more proactive rights. Texans have endured tremendous political interference and it’s eroded access to quality healthcare across the state.

In 2013 and for nearly a decade before, extremist Texas politicians lied. Today we unveil the beginning of our proactive policy work and begin a strategic roll back of some of the most restrictive policies on reproductive healthcare affecting thousands of Texas families.

– Amy Hagstom Miller, Founder & CEO of Whole Woman’s Health

So, what exactly does Trust. Respect. Access. mean?

1. We Trust Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, including the timing and spacing of their children. 

2. We Respect healthcare professionals’ medical and ethical judgment about the care each patient needs. 

3. We work to guarantee Access to safe, timely abortion care for all Texans. 

About time!

Extremist politicians have gone too far in restricting access to reproductive health care in our state. Texas can do better. And we can start today.

Whole Woman’s Health Turns 12!

Today marks twelve years since we first opened our arms to the women of central Texas, and expanded in our other communities across Texas, Maryland, Minnesota, and most recently New Mexico. Since that first January in 2003, our patients have continued to be the focal point of all that we do and will continue to be our most important priority in the coming years.

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Our Whole Woman’s Health counseling area in 2003. We’ve come a long way y’all. No filter!

We also want to extend our gratitude to our physicians, staff, management, colleagues, partners, allies, family and friends. They have been with us through the big wins and the hard losses, and have supported us in preserving reproductive health to keep abortion safe and accessible. Without them, we would not have come as far as we have.

So raise a toast with us to honor our supporters, and join us in our journey to serve our communities in 2015 and beyond!

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Come Party With Lady Parts Justice

On September 27th, join Lady Parts Justice for their V to Shining V campaign as they host parties in every state across the US to call out anti-choice politicians for legislating against a woman’s right to access safe, legal abortion care! Lady Parts Justice was started by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Co-Producer, Lizz Winstead, and it has state-by-state videos for you to watch and learn about what anti-choice laws have been passing in your state and what you can do to stop them. Texas specifically has a “Wrecking Ball” parody with Lady Parts Justice’s very own uterus puppet, Eunice.

Here are five reasons to join (from Lady Parts Justice’s website):

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 10.47.55 PM1. Because women decide elections and if we get together, blow this shit up in a smart and funny way, we just may be able to get folks to sit up, take action and reverse this erosion of rights.

2. Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.

3. Because extremist goon squads exist in EVERY statehouse in America and are sneaking in tons of creepy legislation. We’re staying on top of this shit so you can stay on top this shit.

4. Because you use birth control.

5. Because you like sex and it’s not all about having babies. Think about it, if it were there would be no room to stand.

Now, Lady Parts Justice is starting V to Shining V, a national party to make plans on how we’re going to take back what anti-choice legislators have taken from us in over 20 states across the country. Regardless of where you live, you can sign up to get a party kit of sweet V to Shining V gifts curated by Lizz Winstead herself to throw your own V to Shining V party with you and your friends!

Do you live in California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, or Wisconsin? Perfect. All of these states are hosting public parties with local comedians, musicians, and opportunities with statewide organizations to help you fight back.

Now, here’s where Whole Woman’s Health comes in: do you live in Texas, want to party with us, see some great entertainment, and take down these anti-choice politicians that we’ve been fighting against in court? Join us on September 27th from 7:30-9:30pm for the official Texas party at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress with local comedians Maggie Maye, Daniel Webb, Genevieve Van Cleve, Julie Gillis and musical guests Burgess Meredith (acoustic set), Magna Carda, Elizabeth McQueen, and Nakia.

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Join us in any state you can for your own V to Shining V party, and if you’re in Texas, we’ll see you at Jo’s on September 27th!

House Bill 2 Forces Whole Woman’s Health of Austin to Close

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“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone’s life forever.” Margaret Cho (Whole Woman’s Health).

With extremely heavy hearts, we’re announcing today that Whole Woman’s Health of Austin is closing its doors days before our trial against House Bill 2 begins.

Austin was our flagship clinic, serving the community of Central Texas with the best abortion care available to women for over ten years. House Bill 2, which passed last summer, has forced us into yet another closure, this time because we’re unable to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center at this location.

Fortunately we’re still caring for women at Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth and, continuing after September 1st, at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio.

Here is our official statement to the public:

“We wanted to let you know that as of today, July 31, Whole Woman’s Health will close its Austin clinic doors.

“The closure today of Whole Woman’s Health of Austin is the result of politicians acting against women in our state when they passed HB2.  They continue to be relentless in taking personal health decisions away from women by passing onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions,” commented Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO, Whole Woman’s Health.

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The brother that gets me is going to get one hell of a woman.” Aretha Franklin (Whole Woman’s Health).

This announcement comes just days before the August 4 trial date, when Whole Woman’s Health and other independent providers will challenge the onerous requirements of House Bill 2 (HB2) set to go into effect September 1, 2014 in the legal challenge Whole Woman’s Health vs. Lakey. The outcome of the trial will ultimately decide the fate of Whole Woman’s Health clinics around the state, with the exception of Whole Woman’s Surgical Center in San Antonio, which meets the requirements of HB2 and will remain open into the future.

“While Austin has stopped providing abortion care, our Fort Worth clinic remains open and we hold out hope that this trial will allow us to remain open and continue serving that community and possibly even reopen some of the WWH clinics that HB 2 forced us to close,” said Hagstrom Miller.”

You haven’t seen the last of us yet. We have a lot of things up our sleeve and the lawsuit next week is just the beginning.”

 

Join us on Monday as we continue to fight back against these painfully unnecessary, onerous, and destructive provisions that House Bill 2 has imposed on women and their healthcare providers in Texas.

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#FightBackTX

Whole Woman’s Health Takes Texas to Court over HB 2.

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(Photo via Austin Chronicle).

The trial in our second challenge to Texas’ unconstitutional abortion restrictions will begin at 9AM CT (10AM EST) on Monday, August 4, 2014 in United States District Court in Austin.  We expect the trial to conclude on Thursday, August 7, 2014.

Whole Woman’s Health v Lakey is the second challenge to Texas’ House Bill 2 (HB2), sweeping anti-choice legislation that was passed last summer and has already shuttered clinics across the state and left women with extremely limited health care options. This lawsuit seeks to block the admitting privileges requirement specifically as it applies to Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso—two clinics that are among the last, if not the only, reproductive health care providers offering safe, legal abortion care in their communities. The second suit also seeks to strike HB2’s provision that every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), a provision scheduled to take effect in September 2014 that would leave fewer than 10 clinics in Texas and force many women to endure a roundtrip of more than a thousand miles or cross state lines to access safe and legal abortion services.

The trial will happen before Judge Lee Yeakel at the United States District Court in Austin at 501 West Fifth Street as it did with our first trial last October. Judge Yeakel will decide that morning whether electronic devices are allowed inside of the courtroom, though it’s likely they’ll only be allowed for taking notes and not for Internet access. 

Watch our Twitter feed for live updates on the trial as we get them, as well as our Facebook page and this blog for more as we fight back against this law with help from the Center for Reproductive Rights and others. #FightBackTX

“They don’t have abortion clinics up there at all.”

This is part of an ongoing collection of women’s stories in Whole Woman’s Health clinics that we will be posting all week. These women have all had to struggle and jump through different hoops as a result of the passage of House Bill 2 in July of 2013, and they deserve to have their stories told.

“They don’t have abortion clinics up there at all,” said one of our patients at Whole Woman’s Health of Austin last week. She left her shift at a local casino in Lake Charles, LA and drove the 4.5 hours one way to Austin to get an abortion.

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After discovering she was 13 weeks pregnant, the patient decided that she wasn’t able to have another child, especially since she already has a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old that her mom had to watch while she drove to Austin for her procedure. Not only is she now part of the 1 in 3 women in the United States that will get an abortion, she is also part of the 60% of women that have abortions that also already have children.

Before March, this patient would have been able to access safe abortion care at Whole Woman’s Health of Beaumont, which is about an hour’s drive from Lake Charles and just west of the border between Louisiana and Texas. Since our Beaumont clinic is not able to meet the standards of an Ambulatory Surgical Center as laid out by House Bill 2, we had to close after serving the women of East Texas and surrounding Louisiana communities for almost 10 years with safe, compassionate abortion care.

The patient was able to get an appointment at Whole Woman’s Health of Austin quickly, though it’s unfortunate that she was forced to drive over 600 miles round-trip to obtain healthcare that she so desperately needed.

To read more personal stories and/or to speak up and have your voice heard about the harmful effects of House Bill 2, go to http://www.fightbacktx.com.