It’s Women’s History Month and we just celebrated both Abortion Provider Appreciation Day and International Women’s Day – moments of reflection and celebration that are dear to our hearts. Unfortunately, not everyone celebrates abortion care! There has been sinister legislative action this year that is making our essential, life-changing work near impossible. From Texas to Florida to Washington, DC, anti-abortion lawmakers are doing all they can to outlaw abortion in every possible way until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which is expected in June. We’re approaching the end of many state legislative sessions and the fight to get every bill passed is running high. Nevertheless, our spirits will not be broken, and we have been busy preparing for the future of abortion care if Roe v. Wade is weakened or overturned. You can get a glimpse of how that work is shaping in our 2021 Annual Report, which was just released this month.
Like many abortion providers, we are doing everything we can to try to meet the needs of pregnant people in the U.S. As we navigate the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty ahead, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for standing with us. Our abortion providers savored your words of hope and support last week. We also hope you’ll consider donating (or, better yet, become a monthly donor!) so we can sustain our clinics and continue to launch innovative programs that protect your reproductive freedoms.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO
Sonja Miller, MEd, MDiv, Interim Managing Director
Abortion is Our Work
For 6 months, our Texas abortion providers have faced unimaginable circumstances. For 6 months, we have heard the cries and pleas of Texans who have had their healthcare freedoms stripped away. For 6 months, clinics in neighboring states have strained to accommodate displaced Texans. March 1st marked a half a year of Senate Bill 8’s enforcement, a cruel ban that has brought almost all abortion access to an abrupt halt in Texas. All the while, our Texas clinics have been open, which is a testament to the commitment and resilience of our staff and doctors.
While we knew the outlook wasn’t good for our case against SB 8, Whole Woman’s Health, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, et al. v. Jackson, we were hoping for justice. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the case cannot proceed against the Texas Medical Board and other similar state licensing officials, the only remaining defendants left after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in December. This decision slammed the door on what little path forward the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed us after declining to stop the law TWICE. We are devastated. This decision is likely to further embolden other conservative states that are moving forward with similar laws.
Whole Woman’s Health of Austin had a star-studded visitor last week! Actress and activist Busy Phillips was in town for SXSW and wanted to support and uplift our important work. She visited the clinic for a tour and conversation with our CEO and our clinic staff. Stay tuned for more to come!
Virginia General Assembly adjourned last weekend, and anti-abortion bills that were introduced this year were all blocked. These include: SB710/ HB1274 (a 20-week abortion ban), HB212 (which requires biased written informed consent), HB304/ HB776/ HB1349 (which interfere with private medical decisions), and HB156 (parental consent requirements). A special session has already been called though, so we have our eyes peeled on what’s to come. WWHA also worked with Alexandria, VA’s local government to pass a city-wide Abortion Provider Appreciation Day proclamation, despite much backlash from the anti-abortion minority. We are grateful for the work of reproductive freedom champions in the legislature and our partners at the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance (VREA)!
Our VA Advocacy Director Steph has been busy supporting VREA’s Season of Action, a grassroots advocacy campaign to uplift and support abortion providers throughout the state. She delivered Valentine’s cards last month and is helping plan a “Shining the Light” documentary screening in Charlottesville and an informational webinar about anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. Steph is also empowering and educating the next generation with upcoming workshops at Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn, VA and a panel at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville is spearheading the pilot program phase of our virtual abortion care services in the state. The program has been very successful as people in surrounding states contend with the stark rise in abortion bans.
Minnesota Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day is Friday, March 25th. From lobby training to an interactive panel to a keynote presentation, Lobby Day has something for everyone. If you aren’t sure how to approach advocacy work and activism, UnRestrict Minnesota will provide the tools you need to be an effective leader in promoting health equity and equal rights. Learn more and register here!
WWHA, Pro-Choice Minnesota, and UnRestrict Minnesota celebrated Abortion Provider Appreciation Day on March 10th, providing lunch and snacks to all the independent abortion clinics in Minnesota. We also sent over 100 postcards, with positive messages of thanks, to all the abortion providers throughout the state. Shout out to the Abortion Care Network for providing the postcards!
On February 24th, we officially opened the doors to Whole Woman’s Health of Minnesota, our brand-new nonprofit clinic in Bloomington. WWHA Board Member Lizz Winstead stopped by the clinic last week to speak with leadership, take a tour, and bust some abortion stigmas along the way. Watch her Instagram Live here!
HB 1217, an unnecessary bill claiming to prevent “coerced” abortions, passed through both Houses of the Indiana legislature and is awaiting the Republican Governor Eric Holcomb’s signature. Clinics already have rigorous systems in place to ensure any patient seeking abortion care is doing so freely. Bills like HB 1217 only make abortion access harder, further stigmatize abortion, and instill fear of prosecution and criminal penalties for clinic staff. Over 100 Republican legislators sent a letter to the Governor asking that he call a special session when the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which is expected to gut or overturn the constitutional right to abortion. This special session will presumably be held so that the legislature can pass more restrictive abortion bans. On a more positive note, the Governor is expected to sign a bill the prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates. In addition, a bill that would increase Medicaid coverage for pregnant people passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor.
Are you interested in volunteering at Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend? Our dedicated legal monitors (LMs) are looking for folks to join their ranks. LMs document any illegal or concerning activity outside the clinic. They are not patient escorts, but a neutral presence to provide an extra layer of protection for our patients and staff. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reproductive rights are in peril around the country, and our federal government is not doing what it could to protect them. On February 28th, U.S. Senate voted on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would protect access to abortion in all 50 states. WHPA fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster and pass. In addition, the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old provision that prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, has been included for renewal in the latest government spending omnibus package for fiscal 2022. It was left out of President Biden’s budget last year. This at the same time as Colombia becomes the latest country in Latin America to partially decriminalize abortion. C’mon, USA! Live up to your reputation as a leader.
At the state-level, SB 8 continues to wreak havoc on Texas and other states are following suit. Idaho became the first state to pass SB 8 copycat legislation that bans abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy. The Oklahoma Senate also passed an SB 8 copycat, which is headed to the House and expected to pass. Florida’s Senate passed a law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court let Kentucky’s Republican attorney general seek to restore a restrictive abortion law. This is just the start of the restrictive measures passing at an alarming rate. Keep track of the major developments in your state.
We could use some good news, so we’re happy to share the World Health Organization (WHO) released some of the most progressive guidelines for abortion. The Abortion Care Guideline provides concrete, evidence-based proof that access to abortion is fundamental to health outcomes as well as a human right that we should be working towards making more accessible.
Shifting Abortion Stigma
We are committed to fostering open and honest conversations about abortion and advocating for reproductive freedom. We continue to provide thought leadership on social media with timely, shareable posts and graphics. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation!
Inside Our Abortion Clinics
Here is a powerful patient testimonial from Whole Woman’s Health of Austin: “Thank you, Whole Woman’s Health in Austin. I cried warm, loving tears when I watched your video, remembering the welcoming front desk, the chairs, and the palpable sense of compassionate care that permeates a place I didn’t want to have to visit in 2007. I’d only had unprotected sex once, during my period, with my fiancé. After weeks of prayerful discernment and processing born of a commitment to only make a choice out of love – not fear, I found my way to Whole Woman’s Health. I expected it to be a clinical procedure but found a place that truly welcomed whole people with our astounding complexity, depth, and power. And in this journey, I finally discovered what it is to freely choose.”
We also gave an inside look at our nonprofit clinics in the WWHA Annual Report. Be sure to check out pages 6-9!
In the News
From the 6-month mark of Senate Bill 8 to last week’s Texas Supreme Court decision, coverage of the injustices has been swift, and we’ve raised our voice to hold elected officials accountable. Abortion bans in other states have also taken centerstage as the race to restrict abortion is at an all-time high. Our fundamental rights to abortion care are under siege—which is why it is important to critically examine how the media covers it. The media can play a crucial role in bringing about changes to SB 8 and other laws like it. It can expand the debate around the issue, energize and mobilize the public, and create transparency and accountability among elected officials. So, if you’re a reporter or know one, please don’t let up now! The story of SB 8 is ongoing and tragic and needs to continue to be told.
The media also plays a key role in reducing or perpetuating abortion stigma in our society, which further limits abortion access. One way that continues today is that many journalists feel that they must present the anti-abortion argument alongside the pro-abortion case, in the name of balance. Reporting from anti-abortion lawmakers and activists often uses misinformation and stigma to advance false narratives about abortion. In addition, the pro-abortion viewpoint is inherently balanced: it respects each person’s right to decide what’s best for them and supports the majority of Americans beliefs around abortion access. Here are other ways that abortion coverage can be problematic and how reporters can improve.
How You Can Help
We know that there are many causes deserving of your support. But if you’ve learned anything from this newsletter, we hope it’s that this is an unbelievable moment in U.S. history where lawmakers are stripping away our reproductive freedoms. Abortion providers alone cannot fix this. Please donate now and often to support our progressive advocacy and clinic work.