Law Enables Anyone – From Local Anti-Abortion Protestors to Out-of-State Lobbying Groups – To Sue Anyone Who Helps Patients Access Abortion, Including Abortion Providers & Clinic Staff
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AUSTIN, TEXAS – Whole Woman’s Health (WWH – lead plaintiff) and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA – co-plaintiff) have joined a broad coalition of Texas abortion providers, doctors, clergy, abortion funds, and practical support networks in suing to block Texas’ Senate Bill 8, a harmful and extreme anti-abortion ban set to take effect September 1, 2021. The law is not just the most restrictive abortion ban in the country – banning abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant — but also pits communities, neighbors, and even friends and family members against each other.
The law allows any person or organization to sue anyone for helping Texans obtain abortion care, including physicians, clinic staff, abortion funds, and even family members who drive their loved ones to an appointment. It incentivizes these lawsuits through significant monetary rewards — $10,000 to anyone who successfully sues for “aiding and abetting” a person in getting abortion care. And the law’s extremely limited exceptions do not even include provisions for victims of rape or incest.
“At the heart of this battle is a stark choice between a nightmarish future in which Texans are encouraged to turn on each other by politicians who seek total control over our most personal decisions, or a much brighter one in which people facing complicated decisions about their pregnancies can get the advice, support, and care they need,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance.
“We know how badly this law will devastate the lives of people and communities across Texas because they are the people and communities we serve,” Hagstrom Miller said. “This law will prevent people from getting critical care when they need it. It will tear apart families, friendships, and communities as politicians turn them against each other for monetary reward. It’s an affront to the values we share with the communities we serve, and with a majority of Texans statewide.”
Recent polling shows that majorities of Texans from across the political spectrum reject all of the law’s major provisions, with 51 percent opposing the six-week abortion ban and 63 percent opposing the provision allowing out-of-state individuals and groups to sue Texans for helping people get abortion care.
“When our fellow Texans face the decision to continue or end a pregnancy, we seek to help them with sound advice, unconditional support, and compassionate care,” said Marva Sadler, Director of Clinical Services of WWH. “We believe this is what most Texans would want for their families, friends, and neighbors, not a world in which our most deeply personal decisions are subject to meddling and legal action by people deputized to enforce the will of the extremist politicians who have hijacked our state legislature.”
Research shows that nations where abortion is restricted have more than three times the unintended pregnancy rate as those where abortion is legal. When abortion is heavily restricted, women from poor, rural and marginalized communities suffer most, as they are not able to afford to travel to places where abortion is legal or pay medical and/or logistical costs.
“The structural inequities that have diminished the options and outcomes available to people of color, immigrants, the economically disadvantaged, and other marginalized communities will be further hardened by SB 8,” Sadler said. “This will mean even more disastrous and dire consequences for people already suffering under the harsh conditions created and exacerbated by the politicians responsible for this despicable law.”
Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance also offered a warning to citizens of other states:
“People across the US had better take notice, because if this law is allowed to stand in Texas, it won’t be long before it shows up in their own backyards,” said Hagstrom Miller. “This law is yet another outrageous gambit in a deliberate, long-term, national strategy for systematically dismantling people’s options and ability to get safe and legal abortion care. We’re fighting to help stop it here before it shows up anywhere else.”
Abortion restrictions and extremism from anti-abortion politicians have become the norm in Texas, and WWH and WWHA are providing high-quality care and fighting for rights. We’ve taken Texas to court over restrictive abortion measures before and won, so we are shining a light once again on just how fragile abortion access is in Texas and beyond. We all know and love people who may need abortion care and this law is unjust.
This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas today on behalf of the following plaintiffs:
- Abortion Providers: Whole Woman’s Health (which operates four clinics in Texas); Whole Woman’s Health Alliance; eleven Planned Parenthood health centers throughout the state; Southwestern Women’s Surgical Center; Austin Women’s Health Center; and Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services and Houston Women’s Reproductive Services.
- Doctors: Dr. Allison Gilbert and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, who provide abortion services
- Clergy: Reverend Erika Forbes and Reverend Daniel Kanter, who provide emotional and spiritual counseling and support to patients considering abortion
- Abortion Funds & Practical Support Networks: The Afiya Center, Frontera Fund, Fund Texas Choice (FTC), Jane’s Due Process, Lilith Fund, and the TEA Fund
- Clinic Staff: Marva Sadler, Senior Director of Clinical Services at Whole Woman’s Health
You can read the full complaint here.
About Whole Woman’s Health: Whole Woman’s Health (WWH) is a privately-owned healthcare organization, committed to providing holistic reproductive health care. WWH clinics provide comprehensive gynecology services, including abortion care, in the South and the Midwest, where access to abortion is most restricted. It is our philosophy that everyone must be at the center of their own healthcare decisions, and that treating patients holistically will better serve and improve health and happiness in our communities. Whole Woman’s Health manages 9 clinics, located in: Austin, TX, Fort Worth, TX, McAllen, TX, McKinney, TX, Bloomington, MN, Baltimore, MD, South Bend, IN, Charlottesville, VA, and Alexandria, VA. For more information: www.wholewomanshealth.com
About Whole Woman’s Health Alliance: Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA) works to strategically shift the stigma around abortion in our culture and is committed to fostering open and honest conversations, lifting all communities, and transforming the abortion care environment. WWHA is a 501(c)3 organization leading powerful stigma eradication, culture change and community education work across the United States. The work is rooted in and informed by direct service work delivering high quality abortion care around the country. WWHA’s largest programs are the operation of clinics in Austin, TX, Charlottesville, VA, and South Bend, IN. We are committed to maintaining clinics in challenging places where access to quality abortion care is under attack. For more information: www.wholewomanshealthalliance.org