15 no-cost abortions scheduled through Harvey relief effort

(by Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune)

Fifteen patients have scheduled no-cost abortions as part of an effort launched by Whole Woman’s Health Clinic to pay for procedures for women affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Six of those abortions will take place in the clinic’s San Antonio location and nine are scheduled in Austin, a spokeswoman for the clinic said. The service will continue throughout September.

“There’s not really a safety net, especially when it comes to health care — we really felt like it was important to step up and do our part,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. “In any kind of natural disaster, women’s health care becomes a critical issue.”

Founded in 2003 in Austin, Whole Woman’s Health Clinic is a national abortion provider with four locations in Texas. The organization sees more than 30,000 women each year, and provides comprehensive gynecological care, including services like STI testing, Pap smears and birth control prescriptions. It is also involved in pro-abortion rights advocacy work at the state and national levels.

Miller said dozens of women likely missed previously scheduled abortion-related appointments due to the storm. For others who may have lost everything in the flooding, “it changes their situation,” she said.

The clinic is also helping patients pay to get to one of its locations in Austin, San Antonio, McAllen or Fort Worth.

Whole Woman’s Health has been collecting donations for these services through its Stigma Relief Fund. Since announcing its Harvey relief efforts, the clinic has raised nearly $6,000. Costs for the 15 procedures scheduled so far will total just over $8,000.

The clinic has had a troubled legal relationship with Texas. Whole Woman’s Health recently sued the state over a law that would have banned the most common second-trimester abortion procedure; in a victory for abortion providers, a judge last month ruled to temporarily halt that ban from going into effect. The clinic’s Austin location just reopened this spring more than two years after shutting down as a result of one of Texas’ most restrictive abortion laws.