Amy Hagstrom Miller: Today, We Made History

I am beyond elated. Every day Whole Woman’s Health treats our patients with compassion, respect and dignity – and with this historic decision, today the Supreme Court did the same. We’re thrilled that justice was served and our clinics stay open.

After years of fighting heartless, anti-abortion Texas politicians who would seemingly stop at nothing to push abortion out of reach, I want everyone to understand: you don’t mess with Texas, you don’t mess with Whole Woman’s health, and you don’t mess with this beautiful, powerful movement of people dedicated to reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Three years ago, Texas politicians passed HB 2, a regressive law aimed directly at women who have decided to end a pregnancy and those of us who provide their care. With no legitimate medical justification, politicians forced abortion providers to completely restructure our clinics or to build mini hospitals. HB 2 forced more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics to close – including several of my own. Click here to help us keep clinics open.

These closures have put a staggering burden on Texas women. With this clinic shutdown law, politicians forced Texas women seeking abortion to go to clinics that are further away or in another state; take more days off of work, lose income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation to travel hundreds of miles. For many, the process of obtaining safe and legal health care has become an onerous, grueling feat or just flat out impossible.

I hold in my heart all those women and families who were forced to forgo care as a result of Texas’ draconian anti-choice laws.

Today’s decision marks a turnaround for Texas and for our country, but let me be clear: this win doesn’t mean the struggle is over. First, clinics don’t reopen overnight. We have a daunting task ahead of us to determine whether and how we can reopen our health centers that were forced to shut their doors over the past several years. Renewing leases, hiring staff, and working with communities that we previously served to help us re-open for care.

And second, this decision only addressed two of the many, many restrictions women face to get abortion care in Texas. Now we must redouble our efforts across the country to end similar state restrictions that push abortion out of reach for too many women. It’s time to pass proactive state laws so a woman has access to quality clinics in her community, can afford abortion, and doesn’t face shame or stigma when she seeks care.

From day one, Whole Woman’s Health rejected HB 2’s insulting premise and we fought back. We took on the bully politicians. We have struggled every day since then against anti-choice, regressive policies and our opposition’s best efforts to shut us down.

And we won.

I am proud to continue providing holistic and high-quality care not only in Texas, but also in Maryland, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Illinois. Today, we made history and tomorrow, we get back to work so that every woman who seeks abortion services can get the health care she needs with dignity and respect.

 

IMG_1636

Amy Hagstrom Miller speaks with Vote Your Values as we wait for a Supreme Court ruling

Earlier today, our president and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, sat down with Refinery29’s Vote Your Values to talk about being the lead plaintiff in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and what’s at stake with the Supreme Court case that could be announced any day now.

In particular, Amy told a story we’ve become all too familiar with since the passage of HB2, of a woman trying to access care with no available clinics in her area.  You can read the story below and watch the full conversation (well worth the 30 minutes) here.

“We’ve heard from so many people. This law didn’t do anything to prevent the need from unplanned pregnancy. It didn’t reduce the number of people who need abortion care. It just cut off women’s access to quality care. The same amount of women in the communities we serve need abortion care. 

We had a woman call us from Lubbock, which is in west Texas. The clinics there have all closed because of HB2. She was a single mom, a working mom of three, and we had to tell her that she had to travel 35o miles to Dallas/Fort Worth to get an abortion. And she called us about six times during the course of her pregnancy, trying to figure out how to get time off work, afford gas, travel round trip, get childcare. By the time she was actually got her ultrasound she was too far along in her pregnancy to have an abortion in the state of Texas. 

That’s not in the best interest of women’s health and safety. When she called us she was eight weeks into her pregnancy. [That would have been] a risk-free, first trimester abortion, which is a totally normal part of reproductive health care. But, because of these laws it pushed her further into the pregnancy, into the second trimester, and actually it endangered her health.

That’s why it absolutely drives me crazy when people by into the spin of ‘women’s health and safety’ in our best interest, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

 

Amy Hagstrom Miller on Today’s FDA Mifepristone Announcement

Today’s FDA announcement of a label change to Mifepristone is a significant advancement for women in the United States.  All of us at Whole Woman’s Health are thrilled that the updated FDA labeling reflects evidence based care that is best for women. People who visit our clinics deserve options for abortion care without worrying about medically unnecessary obstacles and this change allows for more women to get the care they deserve.
We are particularly encouraged that this updated labeling could expand the availability of abortion in Texas, where  anti-choice politicians continue to interfere in women’s personal health decisions, enacting laws such as HB2 that deny women the ability to make their own decisions about whether and when to become a parent.
Prior to HB2, 40 to 50% of our patients at Whole Woman’s Health chose medication abortion. Since HB2 went into effect, that figure has decreased dramatically. For the past two years only about 5% of the women we serve in Texas have been able to get the medication abortion care they wanted because HB2s barriers were insurmountable. This label change will dramatically expand access for women not only in Texas, but throughout our clinics nationwide.
While we appreciate this step forward, we also acknowledge that there are still too many restrictions preventing women from quality care.  The reality is that low-income women, women of color and rural women bear the brunt of abortion care restrictions.  We will continue to fight for the day when all women have access to the compassionate and comprehensive reproductive health care that we provide at our clinics.
Whole Woman’s Health has a strong commitment to make Medication Abortion an option for all our patients and we look forward to implementing this new label change in our clinics in the coming days.
Amy Hagstrom Miller
President and CEO
Whole Woman’s Health

#FlashbackFriday: Watch the Whole Woman’s squad speak @ the Supreme Court!

We don’t know about you, but we’re still just recovering from last week’s oral arguments and Supreme Court rally! It’s been tough getting back into the day-to-day now that we’re no longer prepping for the biggest reproductive rights case of our generation (although now we’re playing the waiting game again as we look toward the Justices for a decision).

So, it’s understandable that we’d be spending the week reliving the moment by going back through Twitter and Instagram feeds, and re-watching the rally recordings. Our Whole Woman’s Health squad had the honor of speaking several times throughout the program, and we’ve gathered them all below for your Friday viewing pleasure 🙂

Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO:

 

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, Physician @ Whole Woman’s Health:

 

Andrea Ferrigno, Corporate Vice President:

 

Marva Sadler, Director of Clinical Services:

 

You can watch the rally in its entirety here and scroll down for the entire list of speakers!

Below is the complete list of speakers:

We Stand in the Light: Amy Hagstrom Miller’s Speech at the Supreme Court

It is an honor it is for me to stand here with you today. I am grateful to everyone who has come before me; the abortion providers who have paved the way and stood up for what is right, even when it is not easy; and the activists demanding dignity and justice whose shoulders I stand on today. Thank you.

To all of you who have supported Whole Woman’s Health and our co-plaintiffs Reproductive Services, Austin Women’s Health Center, Dr. Lynn, Dr. Richter and Dr. Davis. Thank you.

Another big thank you goes to The Center for Reproductive Rights. The Center is full of fierce advocates who work all over the world to ensure that women have access to safe abortion care. It is to them that we all owe a giant round of applause.

My final, and deeply heartfelt thanks goes out to my husband Karl and my two children who are here with us today. I thank them for their patience, for their love and for their belief in me and in our cause.

I’d like to invite the Whole Woman’s folks here today to come stand with me. While they make their way up here, let’s give a loud shout out to the Whole Woman’s Health team members all across the country. This is a phenomenal group of women and men and it is my joy to have some of them here with me today to receive this love from you.

As you can imagine, this has been one of the most challenging, difficult and intense 3 years of our lives.

We have fought like hell and done our best to push back on the bully politicians in Texas. We have chosen to open the doors of all of our clinics in an unprecedented way – inviting documentarians and reporters into our clinics – to meet our staff and physicians and experience the Whole Woman’s Health way.  Every time, we see the stigma of abortion melting away as we share openly and honestly about the work that we do. Through these open doors we are changing the way people think about abortion care in this country. After all, we have nothing to hide and we stand in the light.

Just look at all of you!

Many of you took off work, got on buses from all across the country, arranged childcare; I see some of us have brought our kids along!

And you’ve come here in the cold to stand, UNITED for abortion access. Thank you for making the journey.

But here’s the sad part: however far you traveled, however tough it was, for most of you, coming here today was nothing compared to what a woman in Texas goes through to get an abortion.

And that’s what today is all about.

If the Supreme Court does not put an end to HB 2, Texas women will continue to suffer. And make no mistake: what happens in Texas will not stay in Texas. The bully politicians who passed HB2 have counterparts in nearly every state who want nothing less than for abortion to be completely illegal. They are determined to shut down our clinics and cut women off from care.

We cannot – we WILL NOT allow that to happen.
We’re fighting for the day when all women have access to compassionate reproductive health care like we provide at our Whole Woman’s Health clinics. We are fighting to build a better world for all of us.

I want to help close today’s events by inviting you to join me in envisioning that better world, to share with you my dream for the future of Texas and all across the USA.
I dream that the people who provide abortions will be seen and respected as the human rights workers and medical professionals that we are. That we will be able to go to work without worrying about how we will keep our doors open to serve our patients and our communities, without bulletproof vests.

I dream that those who seek abortion will have the information they need and high-quality holistic care they deserve. I dream that a woman will be able to walk into a clinic without having to worry whether her insurance will cover abortion, without having had to travel hundreds of miles, without a protester screaming in her face.

I dream of a world where no woman comes into my clinics thinking she is the only person who has had an abortion. Thinking she is the only Christian that has had an abortion. Thinking she is the only good mother who had an abortion.

I dream that every one of us who has decided to end a pregnancy will be respected, supported, and feel secure in the knowledge that we are not alone.

Yes, today we stand up against politicians who have tried to push abortion out of reach. We stand in opposition to HB2 and any law like it that shuts down clinics, forces women to delay care, or creates obstacles to abortion.

But we also stand for something: we stand here to affirm that women are good, to affirm that women are moral and kind. To affirm that when a woman has decided to end a pregnancy, we can witness her dreams and her aspirations and affirm that she is put on this Earth to see them out and to act on her own gifts.

That is the world we stand for, and it is the world we will create together.

 

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

Lead plaintiff in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

Countdown to SCOTUS: Five decades of Texas TRAP laws in 30 seconds

As the countdown to Supreme Court oral arguments continue, we are reminded that the admitting privilege and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements we’re fighting are part of a long history, five decades – in fact, of anti-abortion legislation that has been pushed through the Texas legislature.

Five_Decades_of_Texas_Abortion_Laws5253

P.S. Have you signed up for the Thunderclap yet? We’re sending a message on March 2nd – Protect Abortion Access!

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