This year, we faced a global pandemic, hyperregulation, litigation, and our opposition growing in power and position. Yet this past month has been the most difficult. We are heartbroken as the uncertainties of abortion rights in 2022 become even more clear. We are traumatized to hear those in power talk about the people we serve as though they don’t matter. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ Senate Bill 8, an abortion ban that has given the world a preview of what a post-Roe America will look like. The words of Justice Sotomayor are echoing in our minds: “The court should have put an end to this madness months ago.” Their ruling paired with the lack of urgency to issue the decision in the first place sends a direct message that the right to abortion care isn’t seen as essential by those who swore an oath to protect the constitution.
On December 1st, the Supreme Court also heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade. A group of WWH and WWHA staff traveled to Washington, DC to stand in solidarity with Mississippians and Jackson Women’s Health, the last abortion clinic in the state. The decision will likely be handed down in June 2022, but the majority of the justices already suggested that they are in favor of restricting abortion. Simply put, none of this is okay. Abortion access has been systematically under attack in this country for decades, and these attacks are unjust, cruel and inhumane. Our federal government has the power to put a stop to this by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. We urge you to email your representative in support of WHPA now.
WWHA will do everything we can to continue providing abortion care to those who need it and speak up for the majority of Americans who support abortion rights. We know we stand on the side of justice and that we stand with compassion, empathy, and kindness. We will rise to these challenges and those that lie ahead. We hope you’ll rise with us.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO
Jesse Torrey, Managing Director
Abortion is Our Work
The Virginia General Assembly begins its 2022 legislative session on January 12th and, as members of the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance (VREA), we will work in coalition to uphold abortion rights and access across the state as a new anti-abortion majority takes control in the Governor’s mansion and the House of Delegates. VREA is organizing a Day of Action on January 31st at 11:00am in Richmond, VA. Following the rally, which will be emceed by our own VA Advocacy Director, Steph Nash, we will visit legislators to ask them to support our policy agenda and reject anti-reproductive healthcare and anti-abortion bills. If you live in or near Virginia, we hope you can join us.
Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, and they refused to block Senate Bill 8. To make matters worse, they rejected our request to send the case back to the Federal District Court, instead sending it to the conservative-leaning Fifth Circuit, barring us from obtaining any effective relief. The law has now been in effect for 108 days with no end in sight. The cruelty and heartache that our staff and patients have endured will continue. Clinics in neighboring states are overwhelmed as they do their best to support the Texans we have to turn away, causing 4-6 week waits for Texans and people in their own communities.
Texas lawmakers took another major step in their all-out assault against abortion care when Senate Bill 4 went into effect on December 2nd. This law limits medication abortion care to just 7 weeks of pregnancy, imposes unnecessary medical requirements, and adds new criminal penalties of jail time and a fine up to $10,000 for anyone who prescribes the medications via telehealth.
WWH and WWHA are working hard to minimize the harm from these cruel bans, which is why we’re now offering abortion services free of charge at all of WWH’s Texas clinics.
WWHA’s MN Advocacy Coordinator, Karmann Peters, has been elected to serve on the Reproductive Health Alliance (RHA) Board in 2022! We are eager to deepen our impact throughout Minnesota and the upper Midwest. We will continue working alongside the UnRestrict Minnesota Coalition as we plan for the 2022 legislative session, which begins on January 31st.
The first hearing in Doe v. Minnesota has been scheduled for December 20, 2021. The case, filed in state court back in 2019, seeks to strike down multiple abortion restrictions, including a 24-hour waiting period, a prohibition on the provision of abortion care by advanced practice clinicians, and a requirement that physicians provide irrelevant and medically inaccurate information. These restrictions provide no medical benefit to patients and serve only to make providing and accessing abortion care more difficult and more expensive. With the future of Roe at stake, Minnesota stands poised to become the only state in the upper Midwest with access to legal abortion care. Success in rescinding these laws would increase access for any number of states where abortion could be outlawed.
The Indiana Legislature will reconvene in early January for its 2022 session. Senator Liz Brown (R-District 14) has promised to introduce a bill similar to Texas Senate Bill 8. Brown is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and also sits on the Health and Provider Services Committee. WWHA will work with our coalition partners in Indiana to push back against any legislation that seeks to restrict or ban abortion care.
On January 12, 2022, our attorneys at The Lawyering Project will be arguing before a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on our comprehensive lawsuit against the state of Indiana, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Rokita. In August 2021, a federal district court issued a ruling in our favor on many of the provisions of the suit. The state quickly appealed and was granted a stay, so the restrictions remain in place while the case proceeds. In January, we will be arguing to defend all the issues we won on originally, including the physician-only requirement, the second trimester and telemedicine bans, and several other regulations.
The future for abortion rights and access might seem bleak, but there is some good news to share.
Yesterday, the FDA took an important step by lifting the in-person dispensing restriction on mifepristone, a medication used in early abortion and miscarriage care. The Biden administration relaxed requirements during the pandemic to allow the pills to be shipped by mail. This decision by the FDA makes that change permanent. It is a steppingstone to uplifting the science and safety of the pills, as well as removing barriers for patients seeking time-sensitive abortion care.
In addition, Biden has been moving fast to fill lower court vacancies. He has appointed more District and Circuit judges at this point in his tenure than any President in recent history and more important vacancies are expected to be announced. District and Circuit Court Judges can make or break legal challenges to laws that we are fighting in the communities we serve and other important cases throughout the country.
Finally, a new multi-tactical coalition of more than 100 organizations recently launched: the Liberate Abortion campaign. WWHA is proud to come together with abortion advocates and allies to expand power, grow compassion, provide education, and build support for the ever-changing landscape of abortion access throughout the country. We’re proud to be part of this campaign and work towards a future where abortion can be liberated.
Shifting Abortion Stigma
WWHA continues to humanize abortion providers, uplifting the vital work role we play in the health of our communities and society. We recently shared the story of a WWH of South Bend clinic staff member, Sandra. We also worked with the Washington Post, who shadowed our abortion provider and WWHA Board Member, Dr. Meera Shah, as she traveled from New York to South Bend to provide care.
We are also committed to fostering open and honest conversations about abortion and advocating for reproductive freedom. Below are some recent stigma-busting social media posts. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation!
Inside Our Abortion Clinics
Here is a recent testimonial from Whole Woman’s Health of Austin: “I have never felt so comfortable at a Dr.’s office/gynecologist clinic. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life. I was so scared. The staff at Whole Woman’s Health made my experience feel very safe and comfortable. I am so relieved after having had the procedure. It was definitely the right decision for me. [My doctor] talked me through everything and was very compassionate to my concerns. Also, the woman I spoke to on the phone when I made the appointment was very kind. I was crying over the phone, and I didn’t feel any judgement coming from her. I can’t thank Whole Woman’s Health enough!”
Providing a safe, comfortable environment is not an easy for feat abortion providers. The National Abortion Federation just released their 2020 Violence & Disruption Report, which shows a continued escalation in harassment towards abortion providers – from vandalism and assault to stalking and hate mail. It all lends to a culture of shame and stigma around abortion care, and that drives us to work even harder.
In the News
The Supreme Court’s hearings on Texas’ Senate Bill 8 and Mississippi’s 15-week ban have taken center stage in local, national, and international media. We continue to raise our voices on the impact of abortion bans on patients and communities, having already participated in 25 one-on-one interviews and 1 national press call this month alone. Looking back on all of 2021, we have participated in over 265 stories covering abortion rights and access issues. We remain deeply committed to our communications work and to shifting the stigma around abortion in this country. It’s been a busy year, but we are grateful for the opportunity to be a national leader and voice for independent abortion providers. See all of our latest news coverage.
How You Can Help
However you choose to celebrate or spend the holidays and New Year, we hope that you are able to recharge after a life-altering, history-disrupting year. On our wish list is for all of us to work together to build a world where abortion providers and patients are treated with dignity and respect. There are many uncertainties ahead as fights for abortion rights and access continue to mount. This is a critical time in history, and we need support your support as we head into 2022. Make a tax-deductible donation to WWHA today.