Patients in Texas report that “[they feel] like [they’re] prisoners” and SB8 makes them feel “guilt and shame as this legislation is intended.”
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, five Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas and neighboring states shared additional stories in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the United States’ challenge to Texas’s S.B. 8, which bans abortion at around six-weeks of pregnancy. A shorter version of the brief was filed on October 11 in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) challenge to the radical law that has deprived Texans of the constitutional right to abortion.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on two S.B. 8 related cases Monday, November 1, including the DOJ’s case, United States v. Texas. The additional first-hand accounts included in the brief elaborate on the devastation and lasting harm to patients and health care staff that will only continue to escalate should S.B. 8 remain in effect. The Supreme Court previously denied a request to block the ban, which has been in effect for nearly two months.
New excerpts from some of the patients and health care providers featured in the brief are below.
C.N., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“C.N. and her husband live in East Texas with their five children, the youngest of whom is an infant. She knew she wanted an abortion ‘[t]he second [she] saw the positive test.’...Even though C.N. was less than six weeks pregnant, an ultrasound revealed embryonic cardiac activity. She was incredibly disappointed and frustrated, having already driven over two hours to the appointment with her children, who waited in the car while she was in the clinic...She said, ‘I used to love living in Texas. Now I hate it. It feels like we’re prisoners...I never thought I would ever have to have an abortion, but I have my own reasons and...it’s not fair that I can’t have that right.’”
A.P., patient rushed into decision under S.B. 8:
“A.P. is 23 years old and...feels too young and not ready financially to have a child...As of the day she was interviewed, A.P. had already been to the health center three times and the emergency room twice, trying to determine whether she had an ongoing pregnancy (and thus would be subject to S.B. 8), an ectopic pregnancy, or was having a miscarriage...Because of the extreme time constraints set by S.B. 8, A.P. felt pressured to quickly decide whether to have an abortion. A.P. said, ‘Everybody’s situation is different, and I think maybe that they really only focused on certain aspects of the law. They didn’t look at every single individual that’s ever had an abortion. There’s millions of reasons to have one, and I don’t think they took that all into consideration.’”
A.D., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“A.D. is a 35-year-old social worker and doula. The soonest she could be seen after a positive home pregnancy test was ‘a week out, which put [her] at eight weeks.’...A.D. said, ‘I felt guilt and shame as this legislation is intended’ and emphasized, ‘[I]t’s important that this is cruel by design. Targeted toward working moms, Black women and women of color. The ripple effect due to generational trauma.’”
Y.R., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“Y.R. came to the United States a few years ago ‘for a better life.’ Her husband is the sole provider for their family of four and they make ‘$1500 a month before taxes are taken out.’...Her ultrasound at Planned Parenthood showed that she was a few days past six weeks pregnant even though she had just started to experience symptoms.
“Y.R. explained, ‘SB 8 is so unjust and unfair because it attacks people like me who are low-income and can’t travel to another state to get an abortion. … Y.R. ‘want[s] to tell the judges: You are here to protect the people, and that means don’t take our rights away. This law is unjust and unfair because we as women know if we can or cannot bring life to this world.’”
M.M., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“M.M. is 20 years old and works 60 hours a week as a manager in a fast-food restaurant in north Texas...M.M. said, ‘I grew up knowing that I have an option and it was taken away from me at [age] 20. We are going back instead of progressing. You learn about Roe v. Wade in school. Why would you take that away? And to have more people struggling? If I was to have this child I wouldn’t be able to take care of it anyway. That’s not the best option to me.’”
G.I., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“G.L. learned on September 1 that she was pregnant at an appointment she scheduled to get birth control. She has two children already, but her grandmother has custody of them. G.L. is recovering from drug addiction and is ‘two months clean.’...G.L. recalls during the ultrasound looking at the doctor and nurse and the nurse ‘just close her eyes and walk away and take her gloves off, and I knew what that meant’ –there was embryonic cardiac activity. G.L. ‘started crying, like having a panic attack.’ G.L. feels S.B. 8 is ‘inhumane’ and ‘heart-breaking.’”
S.A., patient denied abortion under S.B. 8:
“S.A. learned she was 6 weeks pregnant while she was in the hospital battling Covid-19, which ‘hit [her] hard.’ She has a 5-year-old daughter, and also cares for her ailing parents and her grandmother who is ‘near death.’ S.A. ‘knew right away’ she wanted to have an abortion. She said ‘I’m not anywhere prepared financially, mentally or physically’ to have a baby...S.A. said S.B. 8 ‘literally sickens’ her, explaining, ‘People don't have to agree with what you have to do, but you should have a choice. As women we are getting more and more held back to not making a choice. I would be forced to have a child that I don’t feel like would have the best life.’”
C.H., health center staff, Oklahoma:
“C.H., an employee in Oklahoma, similarly reports seeing Texas patients who drove ten hours through the night, and one patient who said she needed to leave by a certain time in order to get home to ensure her husband did not find out—but the clinic could not guarantee her departure time.”
H.R., health center staff, Oklahoma:
“H.R., a nurse in Oklahoma, said many patients are ‘coming [to Oklahoma] with a sense of desperation.’ She recalls a patient who suggested she had been so desperate for the abortion that she would have undergone an abortion performed by someone who was not a ‘real’ healthcare professional if she had not secured care at the Oklahoma clinic.”
The Planned Parenthood affiliates submitting the brief are Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma; Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains; Planned Parenthood Center for Choice; Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services; Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; and Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP, authored the amicus brief.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.