WWHA is making big moves to ensure our communities have the abortion care they need and deserve. Our work involves three pillars: direct patient care in our clinics, education and communications work to shift abortion stigma publicly, and purposeful litigation to fight back against medically-unnecessary abortion restrictions. Here are important developments in each of those pillars:
- We are proud to share that we have expanded our patient care – we opened a nonprofit clinic in Minnesota! More details are in our Minnesota update below. This clinic will join our three other WWHA clinics in Indiana, Texas, and Virginia. In addition, we are piloting a program to help people migrate out of Texas to get their abortion, working alongside abortion funds and allies for financial and logistical support.
- Our focus has not left Texas, even though the public and media’s interest in Senate Bill 8 has waned. We continue to provide bold thought leadership in news stories and on social media and spread awareness that all 4 of the clinics managed by WWHA in Texas are open.
- Our impact is felt most deeply when we work collaboratively, so we’ve been active in our state coalitions as we watch state legislative sessions and plan for the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. We also still await decisions in our Texas and Indiana lawsuits: WWH, WWHA et al. v. Jackson and WWHA v. Rokita.
To support all of this strategic growth, we have new leadership at the helm of WWHA! Sonja Miller is our new Interim Managing Director. She has significant experience working with WWHA and WWH, and brings a wealth of nonprofit administration and leadership experience, most recently as the Texas Freedom Network’s Outreach and Faith Director. We look forward to working alongside you as we adapt to an ever-changing landscape for abortion care in the U.S. Support our work by donating today!
Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO
Sonja Miller, MEd, MDiv, Interim Managing Director
Abortion is Our Work
On March 1st, Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) will have been in effect for 6 months. That’s 181 days or 50% of an entire year. Our lawsuit challenging SB 8, WWH, WWHA, et al. v. Jackson, will be heard by the Texas Supreme Court on February 24th, and we are not expecting relief. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently released figures on the impact of SB 8, and they reported that abortions in Texas fell by 60% in the first month of its enforcement. In August 2021, there had been more than 5,400 abortions statewide, compared to nearly 2,200 abortions in September 2021. As we know, abortion bans do nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancies. While the care is blocked in Texas, the clinics in neighboring states are straining to accommodate displaced Texans. Don’t forget who gets left behind in this new landscape – it’s people who are already navigating hardships and disparities.
If you live in Texas, early voting is now open for the March 1st primaries. There are seven statewide races on the ballots this year including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. Please get out to vote for pro-abortion lawmakers!
We are so proud of our clinic staff at Whole Woman’s Health of Austin, who continue to show up not only for our patients but also for each other despite SB 8.
The Virginia General Assembly has been in session since January 12th and the final day of bill filing was January 21st. We’ve been working with our Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance (VREA) partners to advocate against the anti-abortion bills that were introduced. One of those bills is SB 710/HB 1274, a 20-week ban on abortion that makes no exceptions in the case of rape or incest. This ban was recently defeated by the Senate Education and Health Committee, thus stopping the bill from advancing to the Senate floor. Other bills we’re watching include HB 212 (reinstating mandated biased counseling), HB 304 (“born alive” legislation), and HB 983 (reinstating numerous restrictions repealed by the VA Reproductive Health Protection Act). HB 212 and HB 304 were heard on February 15th and both passed the House of Delegates. We’re hoping they will be stopped in the Senate. The House has yet to docket HB 983 and it must be heard this week in order to move forward.
Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville’s virtual abortion services continue to grow in interest and patient volume. We recently hired a new virtual abortion provider, as well as other staff to support the clinic’s operations.
We have exciting news to share in Minnesota! Whole Woman’s Health of Minnesota, a non-profit Whole Woman’s Health Alliance 501(c)(3) clinic, will be opening its doors on February 24, 2022. We know how important it is for all abortion care to be readily accessible in Minnesota, particularly as folks in many Midwest states contend with onerous abortion restrictions and as Roe v. Wade is at risk in the Supreme Court. We plan to do our part to make abortion access in this North Star haven state a reality.
The legislative session began on January 31st, and five anti-abortion bills have already been introduced by a legislator who is retiring after this session to further his anti-abortion work. One of these bills is a copycat of Texas SB 8. We expect DFL Gov. Tim Walz, an abortion rights advocate, to veto any that pass. An Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) bill was also introduced in the House; we will watch to see if it moves through House committees. March 25th is Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day in Minnesota! Click here to register and be sure to check out the UnRestrict Minnesota social toolkit.
On January 31st, UnRestrict Minnesota coalition partners, Gender Justice, and The Lawyering Project argued mightily in Doe v. Minnesota, which challenges a host of Minnesota’s unconstitutional abortion restrictions. Plaintiffs asked the court to block the restrictions at-issue without proceeding to trial while the State asked the court to throw out the challenge. This same court already denied the State’s request to dismiss the case in June 2020. The Minnesota Attorney General also asked the court to stay – or pause – the case pending appeal at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs asked the court to deny the stay and block the restrictions as soon as possible. A ruling is expected soon.
Legislative session is in full swing in Indiana and bills are moving quickly. Several bills that would have added abortion restrictions are now dead, having not received a hearing or vote. Unfortunately, one bill, HB 1217, is advancing through the legislative process. HB 1217 would mandate reporting a “coerced abortion” to law enforcement and imposes criminal penalties on clinic staff who violate the statute. Abortion clinics already have processes in place to ensure that patients seeking abortion care are making the decision freely. Bills like 1217 simply place further obstacles in the way of providing abortion care and contribute to abortion stigma. Planned Parenthood brought a traveling art installation to Indianapolis to let the General Assembly know that we will continue to fight for the right to abortion access, which is supported by the majority of Hoosiers.
The Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend is working hard to prepare the clinic and staff for the upcoming expansion to offer in-clinic abortion procedures to 13.6 weeks LMP. In addition, thanks to grant funding, we recently installed new soundproof windows to protect our staff and patients from the stigmatizing rhetoric and noise from anti-abortion protestors. This Spring, we will replace and expand the parking lot to add an extra 6-7 parking spaces, as well as add a metal fence around the front of the property.
Many U.S. states are in legislative session, and we’ve seen an abundance of anti-abortion bills being introduced. Keep track of the major developments in your state that could impact your sexual and reproductive health. Stay vigilant and contact your local representatives if cruel and unjust laws are introduced. Here’s other national news you should know about:
- Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took the first procedural step for the Senate to consider the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). This vital legislation is designed to protect the right to abortion access nationwide and will be brought to a vote on February 28th. Tell your Senator to vote YES for WHPA!
- A new report shows that anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) across the country are receiving tens of millions of tax dollars to talk people out of ending their pregnancies, a nearly fivefold increase from a decade ago.
- A federal appeals court has ruled to allow federally funded family planning clinics to continue abortion referrals – at least for now. The move will allow recently reinstated rules to the Title X program to stay in place.
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. Justice Breyer’s announcement comes as we anxiously await the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the pivotal abortion rights case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Breyer will still be part of the decision, which is expected to be released this summer.
Shifting Abortion Stigma
We are committed to fostering open and honest conversations about abortion and advocating for reproductive freedom. That’s why we were eager to share our expertise in an important stigma-busting article with HuffPost, focused on “What To Say (And What Not To Say) To A Friend Who’s Having An Abortion.” In addition, we continue to provide thought leadership on social media with timely, shareable posts and graphics. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twi
Inside Our Abortion Clinics
Here is a recent testimonial from one of our Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinics: “I am truly grateful to Whole Woman’s Health for helping me through a difficult time of decision-making last winter. My story may have a different ending than lots of women who seek help at your clinic. I decided to keep my baby. It was the right choice for me and I have no regrets, but I am SO grateful I had a choice in the matter. My feelings were validated and normalized by the kind workers at Whole Woman’s Health. I was treated with respect and empowered to make the best choice for me and my family. I tried to seek help from a therapist when I was struggling with the reality of a positive pregnancy test, but no therapists had appointments available for months. My visits to Whole Woman’s Health provided a form of therapy for me. The staff asked pertinent questions and listened thoughtfully while I cried and voiced my concerns. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the noble work you all are doing for women.”
In the News
Media interest in Texas SB 8 has been waning, so we continue to fight hard to elevate the impact this cruel ban is having on Texans, abortion clinics, and this country every single day. We’ve also been speaking to the press about Roe v. Wade’s 49th anniversary and the future of abortion care in the U.S. Highlights include our CEO’s op-ed in The Hill, NPR’s visit to a WWH clinic in Alexandria, VA, an interview with Spectrum News, and our conversation with Reuters. Keep an eye out for our expertise in upcoming articles in Ms. Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, AP, Wall Street Journal, and more.
We continue to share valuable education and advocacy news on our blog! Make sure you check out these recent posts:
- 8 Ways to Express Your Love for Abortion This Valentine’s Day
- Emergency Contraception vs. Medication Abortion
- Honoring Black Leaders Fighting for Reproductive Justice
- Compassionate Care Patients Can Count On
How You Can Help
We are preparing for a week-long celebration of Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, which is celebrated on March 10th in memory and honor of Dr. David Gunn, the first abortion provider to be murdered in the early 1990s. If you want to get involved NOW, please share your thanks and wishes to our WWH and WWHA clinic staff on this digital appreciation board. You can post text, GIFs, videos, and photos!