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


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.

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.

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  • Jennifer PM

    Tell it like it is Amy! Proud to stand with you these last few days.

  • CaptainCatholic_ProLifeMale

    “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.”

    Would you want to apply this line of reasoning generally, for all matters of law and policy, not just the abortion issue? Does the ‘rule of law’ have any meaning if it doesn’t mean the codification of a society’s BELIEFS about how we should treat each other? How can we have any laws at all if our society can’t come to consensus about what we believe in? Do we believe in privacy, do we believe in autonomy, do we believe in equal rights for women, do we believe in limiting the reach and scope of government?

    If we decide that belief is something everyone must “keep to herself”, pretending to respect everyone’s beliefs but, in reality, disrespecting the validity of belief itself, what basis will we have for determining public policy? If we prohibit the discussion of the ‘big’ questions, questions about the meaning and purpose of life, what sort of life will we be left with?

    I expect somebody here will call for a ‘scientific’ basis of morality. I’d love to hear how that would work out in practice. Shall we begin with the observation that the gene itself is ‘selfish’ and that nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’. (cf. Tennyson and Dawkins)

    Gerard

    • colleen2

      go away Gerald.

      • CaptainCatholic_ProLifeMale

        I’m feeling the love!

        I wonder, colleen, if you’d tell all of us exactly what you’re afraid of.

        My presence on this thread is no danger to you — unless you consider it dangerous to think about life from a different perspective; but I suppose you’re already certain you’ve thought your way clear to the truth and have nothing to gain by examining your beliefs. I said it’s wrong to prohibit a discussion about the meaning and purpose of life. You said, “Go Away!”

        I wonder what you would have said if you were confident your beliefs held up under scrutiny.

        By the way, my name is Gerard. My mother named me after St. Gerard Majella, patron of women who are pregnant or in labor. As you’d expect, my devotion to St. Gerard has prompted me to care a great deal about the needs and difficulties of women who are carrying a child. Generally, I notice that the worse a society treats the mothers of the unborn, the more likely those women are to abort. Societies that treat expectant mothers well have fewer abortions. We in the USA have a long way to go before we can say we’re treating pregnant women well.

        I wonder how many women abort because they have the ‘choice’ to terminate, and how many because we give them no viable choice to carry to term. Who’s doing the ‘choosing’? Women seeking abortion, or policy makers who do little to provide obstetric and pediatric care, or flexible work options, or sufficient educational support, or protection from domestic abuse and sexual violence, or the guarantee of paternal support?

        I’m sure you think a great deal about a woman’s choice. Tell me what you think about society’s choice? Do you think our high abortion rate derives from society choosing to treat pregnant women well, or from choosing to treat them poorly? Or would you rather not think about it?

        Gerard

        • fiona64

          Considering that our abortion rates in the US have been declining year for year in every place that has comprehensive sex education and access to contraception (and, you may surmise, rising in the places where those things do not exist), I must wonder where you come up with your concepts.

          I do notice that, among your concepts, you have failed to list “what if the woman simply does not want to be pregnant” …

        • colleen2

          Hi Paul.
          The fact that I’m not interested in wasting my time having a discussion with you does not necessarily indicate fear. I assure you that my overwhelming emotion was disgust, not fear. now go away

          • CaptainCatholic_ProLifeMale

            “Hi Paul.”

            Nice sleuthing, colleen!! You met the high expectations I set for you and figured out right away that I, indeed, am Paul Gerard Bradford.

            For two years, from October 2008 to October 2010 I posted under my first name. Eventually somebody with authority got sick of me because my account was denied access to the ‘site. I couldn’t use my old moniker if I wanted to, but that’s just as well because I was as sick of it as everyone else was.

            Now, as to my banishment, I can think of thousands of reasons you all might want to silence a contrary voice — even one who tries hard to be courteous and reasonable — but, since I wasn’t invited to share my side of whatever story was being considered, I never learned what, exactly, transpired.

            Now, after wondering for nearly three years why I could never say anything here that wasn’t distorted and misrepresented, I decided to see what would happen if I posted under my middle name. No attempt at deception, just the same persistent hope I have that I might someday get others to respond to what I actually SAY, instead of repeating what they’ve said to other Pro Lifers with an entirely different agenda than mine.

            There’s more to the story than you being “not interested in wasting time having a discussion”. If that were all it was, you’d ignore me — but you’ve never ignored me. You can always be relied upon to respond to my comments. I don’t search you out. You find me.

            “my overwhelming emotion was disgust”

            I certainly don’t want to trigger your disgust, but I’m at a loss to know what I said that disgusted you.

        • HeilMary1

          Your child-raping RCC treats mothers horribly by enslaving them as throw-away incubators for pedophile priests, then annulling their marriages when they are ruined by obstetric bladder and bowel incontinence fistulas, female fetus-caused breast cancers, and other deadly, bankrupting disfigurements. Your looksist cult even banned marriage for priests to free them from “piles of dung” MOTHERS. If you want to help women, hold your cult criminally accountable for its Munchausen by Proxy ban on safe sex and go change the bed pans of abandoned mothers with obstetric incontinence.

    • HeilMary1

      How about focusing on how deadly, disabling and bankrupting childbirth is for women? Forced birther men are the biggest cheating, looksist wife-dumpers around, and they use childbirth disfigurements as their excuse for needing pedophile priest-signed annulments.

    • fiona64

      And … how many pregnancies will you be gestating, exactly?

      It’s awfully easy to be an anti-choice male, when it’s not your life or health that’s impacted.

      • CaptainCatholic_ProLifeMale

        Well, having been a Pro-choice male for thirty-five years, I can tell you I haven’t found it the tiniest bit easy to “come out” as anti-choice. The easy part was parroting views I knew would win the approval of the women around me. I sat with the disturbing feeling that I was corroborating with a great evil for a long time before I screwed up the courage to face the reproach of all the women in my set who’ve bought into the lie that men only oppose choice because we want to control and oppress them. That’s total bullshit!

        I don’t believe we make it easy for women to get abortions because we care about your lives and your health. I believe that the folks who stand to gain from our hyper-capitalist consumer society figured out that women who abort are easier to manipulate than those who take on the responsibility of caring for a child.

        It also serves the powerful to discredit religion, since religious folk of every stripe have always preached that the strong must help the weak. That’s an unsettling sentiment if you want to justify the “choice” of strong people and organizations who decide to abdicate responsibility to the needy whenever sacrifice becomes unpleasant.

        My money. My life. My body. My choice. Mine, mine, mine!! And you needy and weak folks can all fend for yourself….

        Lucky me! I not only don’t have to gestate any pregnancies, I don’t have to do anything at all in the way of putting myself out for those who are dependent. Not since we’ve dismissed the “patristic” notion that those “that’s got” owe anything to those “that’s not.”

        • fiona64

          Shorter Anti-Choice Dude: Them wimmen-folks should keep their legs shut. After all, we all know that they’re impregnated by magic. And we all know that a baby is great punishment for birth control failure.

          • colleen2

            Oh, but see. He’s on our side! Because we’re stupid!

        • HeilMary1

          Women who aren’t bankrupted and disabled by childbirth complications are a real threat to you because they don’t have any neglected, forced-birth kids you can put your pedophile hands on while you’re “babysitting”.

          No woman owes you the shredding of her lady parts as compensation for the “sin” of her having sex with her very own spouse. Nothing enrages pedophile priests more than married women having the same recreational non-procreative sex that priests always get on the sly. How despicable of you to force the legion of pregnancy injuries on all sexually women. Suppose we women banned Viagra, prostate cancer and STD treatments for you pious playboys?

        • Ella Warnock

          I’m a woman with no children, which means that I don’t have any hostages for anyone to use against me to get me to do what they want. As a free agent, I can choose to work a little or a lot, live a simple or extravagant life, travel, learn, explore, enjoy and care for husband, family and good friends. I’m not beholden to an abusive employer just so that I can continue to feed my offspring. I’m not tied to a particular town or neighborhood so that they can attend the “good” schools. Now, the life I’ve chosen might have its drawbacks, but (and I’m kind of old) I’ll be darned if I’ve encountered any so far.

          So, who is it easy to manipulate, again?

          • HeilMary1

            And I’m so glad I’m not additionally disfigured and bankrupted by childbearing on top of the facial disfigurement and employment discrimination bankruptcy forced on me in my childhood by my childbirth-ruined anti-choice Munchausen by Proxy lunatic Catholic mom. The last thing I need on top of my ruined, medically abused childhood is further medical mayhem, expenses and discrimination caused by pregnancy. I’ve seen too many female peers done in by their pregnancy disfigurements, disabilities and resulting divorces.

  • belgianchic

    So true. What a good article.