From Amy Hagstrom Miller, President & CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance
Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) in May 2021. It is one of the most extreme abortion bans this country has ever seen, and, if it gets enforced, SB 8 would ban abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The law is scheduled to take effect in 23 days, and Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance are leading a major lawsuit to put a stop to this takedown of Texans’ rights.
Whole Woman’s Health manages 4 clinics throughout Texas, and the compassion, purpose, and grit of clinic staff has been a beacon of hope for terrified Texans of reproductive age. They are on the ground every day doing everything they can to provide quality and professional abortion care without delay or political interference. But misinformation is spreading quickly, and anxieties are at all-time high.
Clinic staff are no strangers to jumping through hurdles to provide a moral good for their communities. They are overcome with déjà vu as calls and questions flood in from people who are seeking abortion care and think it’s already illegal. Similar calls of desperation were heard when HB 2 passed in 2013 and closed over half of all Texas abortion clinics for three years. Then last year, we received them again when Texas leaders abused their power to prohibit abortions for an entire month, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a path to ban abortions.
Like abortion bans in the past, news of SB 8 is spreading like wildfire. The news coverage of SB 8 has been swift and leaves people with more questions than answers. Clinic staff in Austin and McAllen tell us that 80% of the patients we have seen in June and July are already asking whether abortion is still legal. Staff in Fort Worth tell us patients are coming to the clinic and once inside will often whisper to the staff “is this even legal?” Despite their confusion and fears, patients are still showing up – because they NEED the abortion care we offer. Laws like SB8 cause harm. Patients know that having an abortion is what is best for them. Abortion bans do not help them to prevent unplanned pregnancy or give them resources to plan their families – they will block highly trained, compassionate professionals like our clinic staff teams from providing care. This will force Texans to continue pregnancies against their will; and will force pregnant people to flee to other states or take matters into their own hands.
Texas lawmakers are hellbent on banning abortions at all costs no matter the consequences. We are not here for that! We’re not going to let them push abortion providers, clinic staff, or patients into the shadows. SB 8 doesn’t reflect the decency, kindness, dignity and respect that we see in the communities we serve. We know that people have abortions out of hope, out of love, out of compassion and care.
Whole Woman’s Health won the fight against HB 2 back in 2016, and we can and will do it again. We didn’t waste any time to file suit against SB 8 and the commitment to provide quality abortion care is stronger than ever. Abortion is LEGAL IN TEXAS! We are working tirelessly to make sure it stays that way.