Local Abortion Threat: The Truth About Whole Woman's Health
About the Chain
Whole Woman's Health Alliance (WWHA) is a non-profit organization with a goal to destigmatize abortion. WWHA is managed by Whole Woman's Health, a for-profit organization. Amy Hagstrom Miller is the founder and serves as the president of both organizations.
WWHA sees access to abortion as fundamental to women's health and seeks to destigmatize it and advocate for widespread acceptability. In addition to abortion, the organization claims to offer pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and birth control.
Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt Supreme Court Case
Among the provisions included in 2013 Texas House Bill 2 were the following: 1) a requirement that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and 2) a requirement that abortion clinics in the state must have facilities comparable to other ambulatory surgical centers. After a district court issued an injunction, favoring WWH, against these requirements, the decision was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit determined that the provisions of Texas H.B. 2 should be upheld throughout the State of Texas with a few exceptions applying to WWH. On the grounds of Supreme Court precedent, the Fifth Circuit allowed for a partial injunction of the ambulatory surgical center requirement only for WWH's McAllen facility. It also upheld the district court's injunction of admitting privileges when applied to a certain doctor when working at this facility.
WWH challenged the decision of the Fifth Circuit, and the case was brought before the Supreme Court. On June 27, 2016, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to reverse and remand the decision of the Fifth Circuit, on the grounds that Texas H.B. 2's provisions placed an undue burden on abortion access and was, therefore, unconstitutional.
History of Health and Safety Violations
On October 27, 2017, The Washington Free Beacon published a story on some of WWH's Texas facilities after the organization, And Then There Were None, obtained inspection reports including numerous violations from 2011-2017. One such report can be viewed here. Among the health and safety violations noted during inspections were the following:
Failure to properly sterilize and disinfect equipment used on women
Improper training of staff concerning the sterilization of surgical equipment
Failure to have a registered nurse on staff
Supplies and medication found to be clearly expired
Missing stock of narcotic drugs
Failure to ensure a "safe and sanitary environment"
Failure to properly handle patients' private information
The Washington Free Beacon reported that between 2008 and 2016, six Whole Woman's Health clinics were cited for health and safety deficiencies. These violations are not due to "common mistakes", as evidenced by the fact that most medical facilities rarely, if ever, have a single violation on an inspection report.
Interestingly enough, several of the violations that WWH clinics were cited for are the same types of health and safety violations that ultimately led to the suspension of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer's medical license and the ceasing of his abortion practices in northern Indiana over the past several years.
Underlying Motive for Opening a South Bend Facility
As WWHA's President Amy Hagstrom Miller stated in an October 30, 2017 press release, the organization has a vested interest in launching a national campaign to destigmatize abortion, normalizing it as healthcare. In doing so, Hagstrom Miller intends to push back against both federal and state pro-life legislation, which she believes "bully and block women who need abortion care." She has expressly stated in her release that she considers Indiana and Virginia to be particularly "hostile" environments for those seeking abortion access, and she believes that opening facilities in South Bend and Charlottesville will "play a key roll in the Whole Woman's Health Alliance's launch of a nationwide initiative to combat abortion stigma."
Hagstrom Miller and WWH have made their political motivation clear. As the organization's website reads, "As one of the largest independent providers of abortion care, we’ve worked to ensure that our lawmakers know that these attacks on women’s healthcare will not happen without a fight." It appears that WWHA is more interested in fighting a political battle than they are in ensuring the health and safety of the women they claim to serve.