Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen is the only abortion clinic in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and is just twenty minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border. For Veronica, it’s her calling.
Veronica grew up in the Valley and never knew the clinic existed. When her sister began working at Whole Woman’s Health and told her about a job opening, she applied. That was 12 years ago and she has been a steady, comforting presence ever since, first as a Patient Advocate and now as Clinic Manager. Veronica has seen the clinic and its team adapt and navigate many attacks on abortion care, from legislation that has shut down services to burdensome regulations that place undue stress on patients. Now, she is leading the clinic team through a time of uncertainty because of Senate Bill 8, an extreme ban on abortions after 6 weeks that is scheduled to go into effect on September 1st.
“When HB 2 passed in 2013, it was sad and life-changing for everyone,” shares Veronica. “We did everything we could to be there for the community by providing ultrasounds and pregnancy tests. The patients were devastated, and we felt so hopeless. All we could think about is ‘what can I do to help?’ When the Executive Order passed last year and now SB 8, it felt like déjà vu.”
Veronica has also been personally affected by anti-abortion legislation. She had to be let go because of the extreme nature of HB 2, closing the clinic and many others during its 3-year enforcement. After Whole Woman’s Health won a Supreme Court battle that took down the law, she received a call to come back. She didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“I believe this work is my calling. I am proud to help people in the Valley and over the border who come to the clinic to receive our services. Our team is a family. They are dedicated to the work and love helping the patients, many of whom have no one else to talk to. We’re not here to judge – we give patients as much time and resources they need to make the best decision for them.”
Veronica’s story is just one of many highly-trained WWH and WWHA staff who will not be able to provide the care patients need after August 31st because over 90% of WWH patients are beyond 6 weeks of pregnancy. That’s why we are leading the fight against SB 8 with a major lawsuit that was filed last month. We’re in uncharted territory and challenging SB 8 will take a different path than anyone has ever taken. But we’ll keep fighting and do everything in our power to stay open.