The past two weeks have been some of the most difficult days we have experienced as abortion providers. Even before September 1st, this year has been one of the worst years for abortion rights – with 97 abortion restrictions enacted across the U.S – since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. The most extreme attack has been Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which limits abortions to less than 6 weeks, just two weeks after a missed period. SB 8 has been in effect for over 2 weeks now, and its impact has been devastating. Clinics in Texas are being forced to deny care to the majority of people who need abortions. To make matters worse, other GOP-led states are already looking to SB 8 as a model for banning abortion care.
Last month we spoke about hope, and this month some finally arrived. Not only did I visit the White House for a roundtable with VP Kamala Harris last week (the first time an abortion provider has been invited to the White House in over 25 years!), but the DOJ also stepped in to fight SB 8. Even more inspiring has been the outpouring of donations and words of support from friends, neighbors, and supporters like you. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. We hope this rundown of our work in the South and Midwest keeps you informed and motivated to keep up the good fight along with us!
Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO
Jesse Torrey, Managing Director
Abortion is Our Work
In our major lawsuit challenging SB 8 (Whole Woman’s Health et al, v. Jackson et al), we asked the U.S. Supreme Court for emergency relief and the conservative majority declined to help. Our case is back at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting a ruling on the state’s motion to dismiss the case. All Texas clinics are forced to comply with the law – which blocks our highly-trained staff from helping the majority of Texans seeking abortion care – but the legal battle is far from over.
The Biden Administration has also taken a stand as VP Kamala Harris convened a roundtable of 7 abortion providers, patients, and advocates, including WWHA’s President & CEO. Moments before the roundtable, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it is suing the state of Texas to use every possible tool of government to combat SB 8 and other laws like it. A hearing will be held on October 1st to consider temporarily blocking SB 8 while the DOJ lawsuit unfolds. We anxiously await the hearing’s outcome and hope for relief so that we can resume providing the full-scope of abortion care that Texans need.
Following in the footsteps of Texas’ extreme abortion ban, anti-abortion State Senator Liz Brown announced she will file a similar bill to be taken up when the Indiana legislature meets in January 2022. This is why our fight against SB 8 is critical! We’re doing whatever it takes to put a stop to it before it shows up in Indiana or anywhere else.
We received some news in our Indiana lawsuit. Following our victory in the District Court in the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v Rokita case, the State of Indiana predictably appealed to the 7th Circuit, and asked that some of the overturned laws be allowed to remain in place while the appeal moves forward. Unfortunately, the Court agreed, so we will have to wait for the appeal to be heard before we can make some service changes. The state did not appeal all the overturned laws so we are immediately able to stop telling patients medically inaccurate and unproven information about fetal pain, along with other stigmatizing language. Additionally, we do not have to comply with certain unnecessary facility requirements which have no impact on the standard of care. We will continue to work with our legal team on our next steps to ensure the Michiana community can get the abortion care they need with the dignity they deserve.
WWHA is proud to be a member of UnRestrict Minnesota, a cross-sector coalition that works to protect, expand, and destigmatize access to abortion care in Minnesota. WWHA participated in their August fundraiser, which raised more than $16,000 to be shared by 18 local organizations (including WWHA).
On September 13th, WWHA and WWH of the Twin Cities participated in the #BansOffOurBodies Rally on the State Capitol steps to sound the alarm against the Supreme Court’s refusal to protect abortion rights. Nearly 200 Minnesotans showed up and WWHA’s Minnesota Advocacy Coordinator Karmann spoke to them about the state’s restrictions on abortion care and ways they can help.
SB 8 created national debate and grief around abortion access, including among our partners in Virginia. On September 1st, WWHA participated in a “Virginians Against SB 8” briefing to stand in solidarity with abortion providers, advocates, supporters and allies in Texas. Jesse Torrey, WWHA’s Managing Director, participated in the briefing and shared the on-the-ground impact of this extreme ban. WWHA will also be in Sterling, VA this Saturday, September 17th, to Rally for Reproductive Rights with the National Organization for Women (NOW) Loudoun County. If you’re in the area, join us.
Shifting Abortion Stigma
WWHA is committed to fostering open and honest conversations, lifting up all communities, and advocating for reproductive freedom. Here are some recent stigma-busting social media posts. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation!
We also shift stigma with our Abortion 101 program, which educates advocates and allies on abortion care services and emerging threats to our rights. In late August, we welcomed Birth in Color RVA’s community-based Doula Collective from across Virginia. This training, led by our Virginia Advocacy Director Steph, is the first step for future Abortion Doulas, who provide emotional support to people before and after their abortion procedure. In mid-September, we hosted 14 fellows in NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s Student Advocacy Fellowship. These students traveled from 7 Virginia universities to tour our Charlottesville clinic and discuss the current landscape of abortion care.
Inside Our Abortion Clinics
Here is a recent testimonial from a patient at Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville.
“This place was absolutely amazing. They do their best to make you as comfortable as they possibly can under any circumstances. They cater not only to your physical needs, but your emotional needs, as well as any concerns you may have. They provide snacks, water, emotional support, and comfort. Each and every employee was knowledgeable and kind. There was zero judgment and they made me feel like I matter.”
Want to hear more? Keep an eye on your inbox for stories from WWHA and WWH staff and physicians.
In the News
SB 8 went into effect on September 1st, and, in the days leading up to it, the media was eager to hear how the ban was already impacting abortion providers and pregnant people in Texas. On August 31st, WWH’s Texas clinics worked through the night to provide abortion care to every patient before midnight. No one was turned away and the last patient was helped at 11:56pm CT. This act of service and compassion drew a whirlwind of public and media interest, resulting in hundreds of media mentions and donations. Visit the Press Room to read, watch, and listen to poignant interviews with our staff.
Marva Sadler, WWH’s Senior Director of Clinical Services, was also invited to write an op-ed for USA Today that chronicled her experience on August 31st. Read her story here.
In international news, Mexico’s Supreme Court made the historic decision to decriminalize abortion just last week. In the U.S., All* Above All is organizing the first Abortion Justice Week of Action from September 27th to October 1st. Help us fight for a future where abortion care is there for everyone who needs it. Follow along by using #AbortionJustice.
How You Can Help
If you supported us during this dire time, we can’t thank you enough. It’s going to take every single one of us to take on these attacks and ensure all people are treated with the trust, respect, and dignity they deserve when making decisions about their reproductive health. Here are ways that you can get involved.