Commentary Abortion

Abortion Didn’t Start With Roe v. Wade. Safe Abortion Did

Amy Hagstrom Miller

"Abortion didn’t start with Roe v. Wade; safe abortion started with Roe v. Wade. Women have always had abortions, and the issue at hand here is what kind of abortions are we willing to let Texas women have?"

The following is testimony given by Whole Woman’s Health President and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller at Thursday’s Texas House State Affairs Committee hearing on HB 60, at which some 700 pro-choice Texans signed up to testify as part of a “people’s filibuster.”

See all our coverage of the “people’s filibuster” here.

Madame chairwoman and honorable committee members,

Thank you for hearing my testimony today. My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller, and I oppose these bills. I am the president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. We operate licensed abortion facilities in the state of Texas, one of them being an ambulatory surgical center.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Over 68 percent of the women we serve are mothers; all of them are responsible, trustworthy, compassionate, ethical, and caring women. The women we serve are your friends, your co-workers, your family, and your fellow Texans.

Abortion didn’t start with Roe v. Wade; safe abortion started with Roe v. Wade. Women have always had abortions, and the issue at hand here is what kind of abortions are we willing to let Texas women have? Many people have very strong feelings and beliefs about abortion. We all have a right to those feelings and those beliefs. But feelings and beliefs should not inform scientific law and medical policy in the state of Texas.

These laws are specifically crafted, all of them, to reduce women’s access to abortion in Texas, plain and simple. The bills do nothing to prevent abortions or prevent unplanned pregnancy. They do nothing to change the need for abortion among Texas women. Texas women will still need safe abortion care—the current statistic is that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. If these restrictions pass, we will have a public health crisis in the state of Texas, as thousands of women will be without proper care.

Abortion is one of the most common and safe procedures in medicine; it is 14 times safer than childbirth. We know the abortion decision is often surrounded by heartache, as no one plans to have an abortion. For many women, experiencing abortion is not simply medical, but involves emotional and spiritual exploration as well. Because of this, women deserve a safe place to receive this level of care—a safe medical clinic that is license by the state with board-certified physicians, highly trained nurses, and compassionate counselors. Texas women deserve the best care available, and Texas women receive that care now in the 47 licensed, safe, legal, and reputable abortion facilities already offering care in our state.

There is no reason for passing any one of these bills. They do not solve a “safety problem” for women in Texas. Texan women have been able to count on safe, legal abortion care for over 40 years, and the Department of State Health Services has record of year after year of safe abortion care in licensed abortion facilities in Texas. I strongly oppose the passing of these bills, and I have serious concern for our citizens if these bills were to pass and restrict access to safe care for thousands of women in our state. Thank you again for hearing my testimony.

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Group: End Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’ for Chicago Abortion Patients

Michelle D. Anderson

Chicago officials in October 2009 passed the "bubble zone" ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support.

An anti-choice group has announced plans to file a lawsuit and launch a public protest over Chicago’s nearly seven-year-old “bubble zone” ordinance for patients seeking care at local abortion clinics.

The Pro-Life Action League, an anti-choice group based in Chicago, announced on its website that its lawyers at the Thomas More Society would file the lawsuit this week.

City officials in October 2009 passed the ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support. The law makes it illegal to come within eight feet of someone walking toward an abortion clinic once that person is within 50 feet of the entrance, if the person did not give their consent.

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Harassment of people seeking abortion care has been well documented. A 2013 survey from the National Abortion Federation found that 92 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express personal safety concerns.

The ordinance targets people seeking to pass a leaflet or handbill or engaging in “oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way.” The regulation bans the use of force, threat of force and physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or health-care facility.

The Pro-Life Action League lamented on its website that the law makes it difficult for anti-choice sidewalk counselors “to reach abortion-bound mothers.” The group suggested that lawmakers created the ordinance to create confusion and that police have repeatedly violated counselors’ First Amendment rights.

“Chicago police have been misapplying it from Day One, and it’s caused endless problems for our faithful sidewalk counselors,” the group said.

The League said it would protest and hold a press conference outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

Julie Lynn, a Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokesperson, told Rewire in an email that the health-care provider is preparing for the protest.

“We plan to have volunteer escorts at the health center to make sure all patients have safe access to the entrance,” Lynn said.

The anti-choice group has suggested that its lawsuit would be successful because of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a similar law in Massachusetts unconstitutional.

Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy and education for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune back then that the health-care provider expected the city’s bubble zone to be challenged following the 2014 decision.

But in an effort to avoid legal challenges, Chicago city officials had based its bubble zone law on a Colorado law that created an eight-foot no-approach zone within 100 feet of all health-care facilities, according to the Tribune. Sidewalk counselor Leila Hill and others challenged that Colorado law, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2000.

News Health Systems

The Crackdown on L.A.’s Fake Clinics Is Working

Nicole Knight

"Why did we take those steps? Because every day is a day where some number of women could potentially be misinformed about [their] reproductive options," Feuer said. "And therefore every day is a day that a woman's health could be jeopardized."

Three Los Angeles area fake clinics, which were warned last month they were breaking a new state reproductive transparency law, are now in compliance, the city attorney announced Thursday.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a press briefing that two of the fake clinics, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, began complying with the law after his office issued notices of violation last month. But it wasn’t until this week, when Feuer’s office threatened court action against the third facility, that it agreed to display the reproductive health information that the law requires.

“Why did we take those steps? Because every day is a day where some number of women could potentially be misinformed about [their] reproductive options,” Feuer said. “And therefore every day is a day that a woman’s health could be jeopardized.”

The facilities, two unlicensed and one licensed fake clinic, are Harbor Pregnancy Help CenterLos Angeles Pregnancy Services, and Pregnancy Counseling Center.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Feuer said the lawsuit could have carried fines of up to $2,500 each day the facility continued to break the law.

The Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act requires the state’s licensed pregnancy-related centers to display a brief statement with a number to call for access to free and low-cost birth control and abortion care. Unlicensed centers must disclose that they are not medical facilities.

Feuer’s office in May launched a campaign to crack down on violators of the law. His action marked a sharp contrast to some jurisdictions, which are reportedly taking a wait-and-see approach as fake clinics’ challenges to the law wind through the courts.

Federal and state courts have denied requests to temporarily block the law, although appeals are pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Some 25 fake clinics operate in Los Angeles County, according to a representative of NARAL Pro-Choice California, though firm numbers are hard to come by. Feuer initially issued notices to six Los Angeles area fake clinics in May. Following an investigation, his office warned three clinics last month that they’re breaking the law.

Those three clinics are now complying, Feuer told reporters Thursday. Feuer said his office is still determining whether another fake clinic, Avenues Pregnancy Clinic, is complying with the law.

Fake clinic owners and staffers have slammed the FACT Act, saying they’d rather shut down than refer clients to services they find “morally and ethically objectionable.”

“If you’re a pro-life organization, you’re offering free healthcare to women so the women have a choice other than abortion,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents several Los Angeles fake clinics fighting the law in court.

Asked why the clinics have agreed to comply, Bowman reiterated an earlier statement, saying the FACT Act violates his clients’ free speech rights. Forcing faith-based clinics to “communicate messages or promote ideas they disagree with, especially on life-and-death issues like abortion,” violates their “core beliefs,” Bowman said.

Reports of deceit by 91 percent of fake clinics surveyed by NARAL Pro-Choice California helped spur the passage of the FACT Act last October. Until recently, Googling “abortion clinic” might turn up results for a fake clinic that discourages abortion care.

“Put yourself in the position of a young woman who is going to one of these centers … and she comes into this center and she is less than fully informed … of what her choices are,” Feuer said Thursday. “In that state of mind, is she going to make the kind of choice that you’d want your loved one to make?

Rewire last month visited Lost Angeles area fake clinics that are abiding by the FACT Act. Claris Health in West Los Angeles includes the reproductive notice with patient intake forms, while Open Arms Pregnancy Center in the San Fernando Valley has posted the notice in the waiting room.

“To us, it’s a non-issue,” Debi Harvey, the center’s executive director, told Rewire. “We don’t provide abortion, we’re an abortion-alternative organization, we’re very clear on that. But we educate on all options.”

credo_rewire_vote_3

Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!

VOTE!

Thank you for supporting our work!