Ten Must-Read Stories On The Impact Of Texas' HB 2
Patients and Providers Explain What’s At Stake In Supreme Court’s Landmark Abortion Rights Case
Research ››› ››› SHARON KANN & NINA MAST
When the Supreme Court releases its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the landscape of abortion access will be altered in Texas and beyond. Before reporting on the potential consequences of the court’s decision, reporters should read these 10 stories about the challenges some people face in obtaining an abortion, told in patients’ and providers’ own words.
Supreme Court Will Release Decision In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt In June
Supreme Court Case Challenging Texas Abortion Restrictions “Could Shape Abortion Rules For Years To Come.” The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt on March 2. The case involves a Texas abortion law (HB 2) that "requires abortion doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and also limits abortion to ambulatory surgical centers," according to The New York Times, which noted that "major medical groups say [the law] will not enhance patient safety and will only reduce women's access to abortion." The Times wrote that the challenge is seen as a "landmark case" that "could shape abortion rules for years to come." [The New York Times, 2/24/16]
Four Likely Outcomes In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Would Have Wide Implications For Clinic Access. There are four likely positions the Supreme Court could take in deciding Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, all of which have wide-reaching implications for clinic access across the country, according to The Guardian. In a June 3 article, Molly Redden and Nadja Popovich explained the likelihood and consequences of each possible outcome. For example, they wrote that if the justices split 4-4, “it would result almost immediately in the closure of eight of Texas's 18 abortion clinics.” In contrast, a 5-3 vote in favor of Whole Woman’s Health “could be a victory of historic proportions for abortion rights advocates,” with 18 clinics in Texas staying open and “similar laws threatening 13 clinics in six southern states and Wisconsin” possibly being “permanently struck down.” They also noted that in two other possible scenarios -- such as finding one of the requirements constitutional but not the other or a decision to send the case back to the lower courts -- the legal status of abortion restrictions would remain unclear and likely be subject to future challenges. [The Guardian, 6/3/16]
Five Articles Media Should Read To Understand The Impact Of HB 2 In Texas
1. NY Times: Austin Woman Explains Difficulties Of Accessing Abortion In Texas, Says Her “Heart Aches” For The Many Who Can’t. Writing in The New York Times, Austin resident Valerie Peterson explained the traumatic impact of HB 2 on her ability to access abortion care in Texas. In the June 15 op-ed, Peterson wrote, “Nearly six months after my abortion I still carry the scars of the experience — not of the procedure itself … but of how hard it was to get the care I needed in the state where I live.” At 16 weeks, Peterson learned her wanted pregnancy was not viable and decided to terminate. But because of the restrictions on abortion imposed by HB 2, Peterston was forced to spend “close to $5,000” to travel to Florida to receive abortion care. Peterson wrote, “ What happens to women in my situation who don’t have the ability to do what I just did? My heart aches for those women”:
Nearly six months after my abortion I still carry the scars of the experience — not of the procedure itself, which was a blessing I will never regret, but of how hard it was to get the care I needed in the state where I live.
I’m already a mother of two. And after years of being told I couldn’t have any more children, I was shocked when my doctor told me last summer that I was pregnant. I wanted another child, and I immediately began prenatal care.
The sonogram clearly showed my son’s brain hadn’t developed into two halves, and there was a hole between the brain and the spinal cord. My doctor confirmed the diagnosis: Alobar holoprosencephaly. My doctor gave me two options: I could try to carry the pregnancy to term, which would most likely end in either miscarriage or the delivery of a stillborn baby. At best, the doctors said the baby might live a couple of minutes. Or I could terminate the pregnancy.
I was devastated by the diagnosis and these two terrible options. I knew immediately, though. Once I saw the pictures of his brain, I knew that continuing to carry this pregnancy would have traumatic emotional and physical consequences. And not just for me but also for my two children, who were excited about having another sibling.
After my doctor called the clinic, I was told I would have to wait three to four weeks for the next available appointment. There was no way I could wait that long. Not only would I be carrying a baby I knew wouldn’t survive, but that kind of wait could push me past the 20-week mark after which almost all abortions are illegal in Texas.
My doctor was able to find me an appointment the following week instead. But when I found out the procedure would then take three to four days to complete as a result of other restrictions that include mandatory counseling, a required sonogram and an additional 24-hour waiting period, I broke down.
I didn’t know how I was going to make it that long. One unnecessary additional day was one more than I could bear.
Through a friend, I was connected to a clinic in Florida that caters to women who are terminating for medical reasons, and I spoke to the doctor and nurse there. The doctor explained that Florida didn’t have a 24-hour waiting period, and they could get me in the next day.
I booked the first plane ticket I found. I got a hotel room and rental car. I flew to Florida on Friday, and my procedure was over by Saturday afternoon. Including the cost of the procedure, I had to spend close to $5,000.
I remember thinking: What happens to women in my situation who don’t have the ability to do what I just did? My heart aches for those women. [The New York Times, 6/15/16]
2. The Daily Beast: Couple “Forced To Endure A Stillbirth” Due To HB 2’s Medically Unnecessary Restrictions. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Daniel and Taylor Mahaffey discussed their experience being “forced to endure a stillbirth and wait as their baby slowly died in utero” due to HB 2’s medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion care. When Taylor went into preterm labor, doctors were unable to save her developing son. As Daniel explained, although an abortion would have been the most “humane thing to do at that point,” doctors were unable to further induce Taylor due to HB 2, which legally would have treated the intervention as an abortion. Speaking to The Daily Beast’s Brandy Zadrozny, Daniel said, “We cried ourselves to sleep, waiting for him to come,” noting that “Taylor could feel the baby struggling inside of her” for four days before she finally miscarried. According to Daniel, by the end of the process, Taylor “was just screaming at them to get the child out of her.” From The Daily Beast:
Daniel and Taylor Mahaffey were 20 weeks pregnant and desperately wanted their child, but when doctors informed them a complication meant the fetus had no chance of survival, they just wanted their baby’s suffering to end. Yet because of their state’s “fetal pain” law, the married Texans say they were forced to endure a stillbirth and wait as their baby slowly died in utero.
On Wednesday night, Taylor, 23, felt something abnormal and since their last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, they rushed to the hospital. By the time they got there, Fox’s feet were already pushing through his mother’s cervix. Doctors tried several emergency measures to stop the preterm labor, including putting Taylor on an incline in the hopes that they could perform a cervical cerclage—a procedure in which doctors stitch shut the cervix. Nothing worked. Nothing could save him.
Heartbroken, the Mahaffeys asked about their options. “The only humane thing to do at that point would be to pop the sack, and let little Fox come into this world too early to survive outside,” 29-year-old Daniel Mahaffey wrote Monday, telling his story on Reddit.
The doctors and nurses at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin cried with them, but said because of Texas law HB2, they could not help speed Taylor’s labor. Technically, the baby was healthy and the mother was healthy, so to induce labor would be an abortion, and to do it at this stage in the pregnancy would be illegal.
The Mahaffeys were sent home to wait for their baby to die or for Taylor’s labor to progress. “We cried ourselves to sleep, waiting for him to come,” Daniel said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“Eventually she was just screaming at them to get the child out of her,” Daniel said.
After four days in and out of the hospital, the bag of waters surrounding their baby burst and Taylor delivered Fox. “One nice thing is we got to hold him,” Daniel said. “That’s the only silver lining.” [The Daily Beast, 3/31/16]
3. Rewire: HB 2 “Makes My Heart Hurt,” Says Texas Woman Forced To Travel To California For An Abortion. In a podcast interview with Rewire, Candice Russell discussed how HB 2 impeded her and many others from accessing abortion care in Texas. After discovering her pregnancy at “about 13 weeks along,” Candice, who didn’t want children in part because of her own challenging childhood, was already “dangerously close to the 20 week mark” after which Texas providers are not allowed to perform elective abortions. Afraid that any glitch in the process would push her over the limits, Russell traveled to California for the abortion, even though her “finances were kind of a wreck.” The thought of people being forced into having children “makes my heart hurt,” Russell said. From Rewire:
CANDICE RUSSELL: [M]y mom was not meant to parent. Did not want to parent. Had no intentions of ever really parenting. Somehow ended up with three kids. And so I had a younger sister who’s three years younger than me, and a baby brother who’s three years younger than her, and I did a lot of kind of, forced care taking. And I always think about the times where I wasn’t there and I was at school and you know, I would come home and my brother’s diaper hadn’t been changed for like, 12 hours.
JENN STANLEY (HOST): Candice had been seeing someone who lived in California. They broke up, but shortly after she found out she was pregnant.
The Mirena IUD kept Candice from getting her period, and since IUDs are more than 99 percent effective, she never thought to check if she was pregnant.
By the time she realized her Mirena had failed her, she was about 13 weeks along. The clinics that remained after HB 2 were completely over-booked and it would be more than two weeks before Candice could get an appointment.
If that’s not enough, in 2011, then Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into a law a bill that forced women to wait 24 hours between an initial appointment with a mandatory sonogram and the abortion procedure. She was afraid that if anything happened and she missed the appointment or couldn’t make it to both appointments, that she would be getting dangerously close to the 20 week mark. With HB 2, came a 20 week abortion ban, which hasn’t been challenged in court yet and is currently in effect.
So Candice decided to go to California for her abortion.
RUSSELL: We don’t have resources for people. We refuse to create new resources. And yet we’re trying to force women to have babies. And I don’t understand, and it makes me so sad, it makes me sad for just our nation as a whole. It makes me sad for these people who are being forced to make decisions that they know aren’t right for themselves, and then having to live with the consequences of it. And it, I wasn’t going to cry, it makes me sad for the children, who are going to end up in situations like mine, where they’re not living, they’re barely surviving, and it’s all because somebody thought that they knew what was best. It just makes me, it makes my heart hurt. [Rewire, 3/19/16]
4. The Texas Observer: Abortion Provider Explains That Some Patients Have “Tried Something On Their Own” To Self-Induce An Abortion, Due To HB 2. In an interview with The Texas Observer’s Alexa Garcia-Ditta, one Texas abortion provider spoke about the impact of HB 2 on Texas women and the difficulties he’s faced attempting to provide essential reproductive health care. Bhavik Kumar is an abortion provider at the Whole Woman’s Health San Antonio and Fort Worth clinics. According to Kumar, “a good number of the patients that come from the border … will sometimes have tried something on their own.” If the Supreme Court rules against Whole Woman’s Health, a number of clinics like the ones where Kumar works will be forced to close. As Kumar explained, this could have dire consequences: “If we shut down more and more clinics, what are their options going to be, how many more women are going to try this and how many women will wind up in the ER and not come to the this clinic instead?” From The Texas Observer:
Recently, especially in San Antonio, we see a good number of patients that come from the border, Laredo, or Corpus Christi. Patients will sometimes have tried something on their own, and we don’t routinely ask these questions, but sometimes it comes up in conversation: “I got some medication from my cousin who lives across the border, and it didn’t work.” Most of the things that people have mentioned to me are safe, either herbs, or a medication called misoprostol. And sometimes miso works, and I think that can be OK if it’s done in the right way, and it’s not unsafe and they have somewhere to go if they need to if there was a complication. But sometimes you worry, what if they didn’t have access to this clinic, or what would happen if they did have a complication and started bleeding at home, where would they go? If we shut down more and more clinics, what are their options going to be, how many more women are going to try this and how many women will wind up in the ER and not come to the this clinic instead?
Last week, when I was in Fort Worth, there were two patients that were really sick during their pregnancies. One patient had to drive five hours to get to the clinic. She had diagnosed celiac disease, and the pregnancy made her symptoms really, really bad. She was having gastrointestinal symptoms, she was vomiting constantly. She could not carry that pregnancy. She was told that same information by the OB doctor, and she was dehydrated, was in the hospital for over a week. They decided to get her optimized so they could let her go, and travel the five hours to a clinic, stay there overnight, and then go back. And she has to go through the same state laws, and then what she has to go through with the protesters. Sometimes you want to take that story and say to these politicians that are making these laws and making her go through what she has to go through and say, “What do you want her to do? This is a human being. This is not just some policy that you’re implementing hundreds of miles away. This a human being that had to go through all of this: What do you have to say to her?” [The Texas Observer, 12/18/15]
5. Reuters: Texas Woman Forced To Self-Induce Abortion Says HB 2 Has Created A New “Wild West” Where There’s Little Choice But To “Figure This Out By Ourselves.” In a May 24 article, Reuters’ Ellen Wulfhorst reported on Susanna -- a “young, single, broke and pregnant” women in Texas who was forced to self-induce her abortion after HB 2 denied her access to a clinic. According to Wulfhorst, Susanna is one of “an estimated 100,000 women or more in Texas” who have self-induced abortions. Susanna explained that her abortion took approximately 12 hours and “sucked.” She described it as being like she was “back in the days of the Wild West” and said the law forces women to “figure this out by ourselves and just grit our teeth and get through it.” Citing research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), Wulfhorst noted that if the Supreme Court upholds HB 2, it is likely that “the numbers of self-induced abortions will escalate.” From Reuters:
Susanna was young, single, broke and pregnant in southern Texas where, thanks to the state's strict laws, her chances of getting a surgical abortion at a clinic were slim to none.
So she did what an estimated 100,000 women or more in Texas have done - had a self-induced abortion.
With the help of a friend, some online instructions and quick dash across the Mexican border for some pills, she addressed the issue of unwanted pregnancy in a state where women are finding abortion services too expensive and too far away.
Restrictive laws took hold in Texas in 2013, forcing so many clinic closings that fewer than 20 remain to serve 5.4 million women of reproductive age.
Supporters of the laws say they protect women's health. The regulations require clinics to upgrade to hospital standards and doctors performing abortions to have formal agreements to admit patients to local hospitals.
But experts say that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas' restrictive abortion laws, the numbers of self-induced abortions will escalate.
Susanna, a musician in Texas' Rio Grande Valley who chose to use an alias to protect her identity, described her self-induced abortion two years ago at age 23 as "almost primal."
"It was like we were back in the days of the Wild West, like we have to figure this out by ourselves and just grit our teeth and get through it," she said.
Research shows U.S. women opt to self-induce due to the closing of their local clinic, the expense of a clinical procedure or the costs of traveling to a distant facility. [Reuters, 5/24/16]
Five Articles Media Should Read To Understand The Impact Of Restrictive Anti-Choice Laws Across The Country
1. Jezebel Interviewed A Woman Forced to Fly From New York to Colorado In Order To Obtain A Third Trimester Abortion. In a June interview with Jezebel, a woman going by the pseudonym “Elizabeth” recounted how New York’s late term abortion restrictions added legal and practical obstacles to what was already a difficult situation: seeking a medically necessary abortion for an otherwise wanted pregnancy. In consultation with a high-risk medical center in New York, Elizabeth’s doctor told her, “If we can get him to 32 weeks, he has a 95 percent chance of being totally fine,” but at 32 weeks, she learned that her baby had become “incompatible with life.” But she was not able to obtain a legal abortion in the state of New York, so she flew to Colorado and paid $10,000 for the shot that would allow her to have the abortion completed in a New York hospital. Asked about the clinic where she received the shot, Elizabeth recounted in the Jezebel interview:
Inside, it feels very much like the ‘70s. There’s wood paneling, wicker furniture, a super-old sonogram machine. They don’t have a lot. The clinic is clean, but it’s old. They try to stretch the money as much as they can. I made friends with a nurse who was from Brooklyn, and she told me that the reason that the procedure is so expensive is because, first, their insurance is so crazy high, and second, the whole staff—the nurses, the front desk—is paid really well because they’re risking their lives to be there.
So between the insurance and the good staff salaries, the money’s gone. $25,000 sounds like a lot for a procedure, but these procedures are rare; it’s not like he’s doing a lot of these. They are not profiting. Right now, they’re in desperate need of a new roof. That’s the kind of situation Dr. Hern is working with.
Today, actually, I sent a request for reimbursement to my insurance company. But I have no idea whether they’re going to accept it or not. Either way, the clinic is really good about working with you as far as your own insurance situation goes: they help you fill out all the paperwork, they make it as clear as possible that this is a medical issue.
I have really good insurance right now, so I do have the hope they’ll reimburse for something. Because here’s one thing you should know. If you get the entire procedure done at the clinic at this late date, it’s $25,000. Cash.
Sit with that. If you get the whole thing done and you’re late-term like me, it’s a four-day procedure and it costs $25,000. … For me, to get the shot only, it was $10,000. … I had to give them my check card and pay $10,000 on the spot. That would be it for most people. Most people are forced to carry to term because they can’t afford that. I’m very lucky to have been able to afford last-minute plane tickets, hotel rooms, and a $10,000 shot. I’m global 1% lucky. And by the way, people are flying to this clinic from all over the world and all over the country. There was a 16-year-old in the room next to me, and there was a woman from Finland. If you’re desperate enough, you’ll scrape it together, I guess. [Jezebel, 6/15/16]
2. Cosmopolitan: Six Women Talk About Why They Had Abortions. Cosmopolitan reporter Caitlin Moscatello spoke with six women from across the U.S. about their abortion experiences. Despite their varying backgrounds, reasons for having an abortion, and experiences with abortion, all six women spoke of the importance of having autonomy over their own bodies and futures, and, in a testament to the enduring stigma of abortion in the United States, several of the women reported being misled, judged, and shamed by their doctors. From Cosmopolitan, which listed the women’s names, ages, location and the number of weeks at which they had the procedure, sometimes called aspiration:
Celina Perez, 34
Los Angeles, CA
Aspiration: 8 weeks
Having an abortion saved my life then, and it made my life now. Something I hear a lot is, "What about adoption?" How was I supposed to carry a kid for nine months when I worked two jobs that are physically demanding? People don't think about what it really means to make these choices when it isn't them. I wouldn't be the person I am — a successful, happy person — if I had to have that baby. I would be somebody stuck in poverty with few options to dig out of it. I didn't become a heart surgeon or win a Nobel Prize. I just became an independent person who was able to find happiness. The opportunity to do that is the least anyone deserves.
Shanelle Matthews, 31
Aspiration: 8 weeks
You can't divorce my race from my experience. The doctor at the clinic had a nice bedside manner but did make a sort of racist comment — "Are you in school? You're really articulate." I had a family member who would remind me time and again that [getting pregnant] was the expectation in society for black teen girls. There's a perception that black women are sexually promiscuous. I think that was part of the shame I felt and why I lied to my track coach about why I had to take a week off.
I didn't buy into the stereotypes people had about me as a young black girl. I just didn't feel capable of raising a child at that time. For me, having a baby was a significant responsibility to be taken seriously. There are people in my life who were excellent young parents. And every year, more and more of my friends get pregnant. I watch with admiration how carefully they make those decisions. No matter what decision you make about having a baby — younger or older or by yourself or with a partner — there are critics who think they know what is best for your life. We need to empower people to make choices based on their own convictions.
Samantha Romero, 26
El Paso, TX
Medication abortion: 7 weeks
We went to one of those crisis pregnancy centers. We didn't know it was one at first — we had just looked on Google, and it was free and it was nearby. The woman used words like "your baby." It was awful. If I had been 16, I would have just done anything she told me. Luckily, I was old enough to know that she wasn't presenting me with the full facts. I went back to Google and found a clinic, and I called first to ask if they performed abortions. We decided I would get my master's and he would work on his life, and we would both have a child when we were ready and we could be good parents. It was the right decision for me.
I keep saying I'm lucky. I had an abortion in early 2013. Later that year, the state government started shutting down clinics. I had to spend my life savings on the abortion — $500 at the first visit and $300 at the next. That was a lot of money for me. I can't imagine having to pay for transportation or [incurring the cost of] taking more time off work, like some women have to do today. [Cosmopolitan, 3/8/16]
3. ThinkProgress: Missouri Woman Recounts Her Abortion Experience In State With “Some Of The Most Oppressive [Abortion] Laws In The Country.” In an interview with a ThinkProgress reporter, Jackie Casteel described her experience having an abortion in 2003 in Missouri, which, because of increasingly onerous TRAP laws, is now “home to some of the most oppressive laws in the country — easily comparable to Texas’ HB2 — that have left the entire state with only one abortion provider.” Though Casteel remembered struggling to pay for the procedure and having to take days off for the appointment, she considered herself lucky that she was able to have one at all. From the ThinkProgress interview:
“I’m not sure if I would have gotten an abortion if the TRAP laws existed. I didn’t have a job at the time. I can’t imagine having to drive to a further clinic and pay for a hotel to wait 72 hours — it’s already too expensive just paying for the procedure. I would have probably done something else,” said Casteel, who now helps women advocate for their reproductive rights in Columbia, MO.
“I might have even tried a DIY approach if I couldn’t see a doctor.”
“Each time I tell my story is a little scary,” Casteel said. “But I’ve realized how important it is to be brave and share. I know I won’t be alone.”
She said she wants her own story — and ones she’s heard from other women living under Missouri’s TRAP laws — to illustrate how this case’s decision could play out across the entire country.
“This law could make it really, really difficult for people in the most need, like I was, to get a safe abortion,” she said. “This is a personal decision, not a political one. There’s a real person behind each story. That’s why I need to share mine.”
Casteel said she doesn’t want to see women forced into raising a child when they aren’t prepared. When she became pregnant at 19, Casteel said she was “being reckless” with her body. It was in no shape to nurture a growing fetus, let alone raise a child.
“I didn’t want it. It wasn’t the right time for me to be a parent at all,” she said. “The biggest way to make change in our world is to give children what they need to be healthy and happy. Let’s not leave that up to politics.” [ThinkProgress, 3/2/16]
4. Slate: Woman Suffers In Pain For Days Waiting To Get An Abortion In North Carolina. Sonia Loureiro unexpectedly became pregnant in late 2015 despite her use of an IUD. At around six weeks’ gestation, Loureiro began experiencing severe pain and bleeding and, after consulting with her obstetrician, was forced to choose between two options: leave the IUD in place and accept heightened risks for the pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature delivery, and placental abruption, or remove the device and end the pregnancy. Loureiro opted for the safest option -- surgical removal and abortion -- but, because of North Carolina’s TRAP laws and a brief period of severe weather, was forced to wait an entire week to undergo the procedure. From the Slate article (emphasis original):
The next day was a Tuesday. Loureiro called the Duke Ryan Clinic expecting to make an appointment on Tuesday or Wednesday. She learned that she would have to wait 72 hours before having the procedure—one feature of a new law, The Women’s and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, passed by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature just the month before, in December. “I did not know about that law,” she said. “I was upset about it—I couldn’t imagine waiting three more days in so much pain.”
Meanwhile, weather forecasters called for snow later in the week, generally a disruptive event in central North Carolina: Schools close over flurries here, and predictions of when and how much can consume local news for days. By Thursday morning, the day before her abortion was scheduled, shoppers were emptying grocery shelves and the roads were striped with brine. While arranging payment over the phone with the clinic’s billing department, Loureiro overheard the scheduling nurse’s voice. “Tell her we’ll be closed for inclement weather,” she recalls the nurse saying. Loureiro had to reschedule for the following Tuesday, turning an increasingly painful and worried 72 hours into seven days of agony.
“The only thing I could do,” Sonia Loureiro says, “was lay and wait.” With snow steadily falling outside, and her cramps and bleeding getting worse, she tried to find a comfortable resting position in bed while her husband took care of their children. Mom’s having back pain, they told the kids home from school on a Friday because of the storm.
On Saturday, the pain was worse. Loureiro reeled between dizziness and feeling “like an elephant was sitting on my chest,” she recalls. She thought she might be miscarrying and also having a panic attack, so she went to the emergency room with her mother.
They waited seven hours before being seen. When Loureiro was finally called in to an examining bay, she described her situation and fears—that this was an unsustainable pregnancy, that her body, confused by the presence of both the IUD and the embryo, was trying to end the pregnancy on its own. The doctor wheeled in what looked to Loureiro like an “old, old ultrasound machine” and performed an exam, which was inconclusive. How many maxi pads was she using? the doctor asked. Could she sit up? Unless she was doubled over in pain or soaking two pads an hour, there was little the ER doctors could do for her. She’d have to wait to be seen at the clinic on Tuesday, they told her. Loureiro and her mother left, driving home on ice-covered roads. [Slate, 6/16/16]
6. Elle: Six Women On How The TRAP Laws Changed Their Lives. Elle magazine interviewed six women who either personally received abortions in Texas or who work as women’s reproductive health care providers to learn the impacts of TRAP laws, restrictions that “burdened millions of women, driving them to extreme measures and into emotional turmoil.” Marva Sadler is the director of clinical services at Whole Woman’s Health in Texas, a private organization that “provides comprehensive gynecological care and abortion access to women nationwide.” From her interview with Elle:
HB2 has changed my total way of thinking and my total way of living. When the bill passed, I moved my family from Fort Worth, Texas, down to San Antonio, Texas to be near our ambulatory surgical center. I moved my family across the state because I knew I was needed.
An ambulatory surgical center is basically a small surgical hospital. You can use it to do knee replacements or hip replacements or heart valve surgery—any outpatient surgical procedure. The state of Texas has stated is that this type of facility would make an abortion safer, but for over 50 years we've been doing procedures in our clinical facilities and only 1 percent result in complications. So we know that this explanation doesn't make sense.
Before we got an injunction from the Supreme Court, the state closed our clinic for a while. I got a very sad front-row view of what it would look like if we were to be closed for good. Women came to us and said, "I'll do anything. I won't tell anyone. I'll do whatever you say. Just don't turn me away." To hear that desperation, and to see women and families who have driven for four hours or have to sleep in an RV for two days, because that's the only way that they could fund an abortion—it's heartbreaking.
The question is, how are we going to deal with this if this really happens. And I don't know that I can come up with a plan. I am a firm believer that abortion saves lives. I believe that we save lives every single day, and knowing that's what we're fighting for is what keeps me going. [Elle, 4/5/16]