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From Our President & CEO Laura Terrill

Posted on San Antonio Express News: January 22, 2024

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, it stripped tens of millions of people of the right to make personal medical decisions. The chaos and confusion that decision caused for patients and their families and medical providers were immediate. Worst of all, it puts people’s health and lives at risk. 

More and more people and families in our clinics are confronting the extreme policies enacted by anti-reproductive health care Texas legislators. By now, you're hearing the stories, too, in the news media and perhaps from your friends and family members. 

No doubt it's just a matter of time before we all know someone personally impacted by Texas’ cruel new laws, just as our aunties and grandmothers all seemed to know someone who suffered before Roe, the landmark decision legalizing access to abortion in America. Two generations of women in my family nearly died from being forced to self-manage their abortions prior to 1973. 

As painful as it is, Katie Cox’s story should resonate with all of us. Despite a devastating medical diagnosis, Texas denied her request to get the abortion she needed to safeguard her life and preserve her fertility. She had to travel out of state to get lifesaving care. No one should have to experience what Cox went through, but everyone who can get pregnant may have to one day.

What is revealed by the tragic stories of Cox and Luling resident Yeniifer Alvarez-Estrada Glick — who died, along with her 31-week-old fetus, in July 2022 but could have been saved with a therapeutic abortion, according to the New Yorker —  is that extremist abortion laws are indiscriminate. They negatively impact people regardless of their race, status, income, attitudes toward abortion, sex, contraception, religious beliefs and political persuasion, or whether their pregnancies were planned or unplanned.

In Texas, pregnancy is now exponentially more dangerous.

Beyond the public health crisis that abortion bans portend, there's another looming crisis: a threat to our democracy. If the “status of women is the status of our democracy,” as our vice president and others have said, every American should be concerned. Countries that prohibit people from fully and equally participating in society tend to lack resilient democracies, election integrity, freedom of assembly and effective checks on executive power.

At Planned Parenthood South Texas, we continue to work with our partners across the nation and across the movement, adapting to the ever-changing regulatory environment and helping build a new abortion care ecosystem, where heroes abound.

A West Coast colleague told me her affiliate is providing care for 900% more Texans. In states like hers, with favorable abortion laws, providers are working around the clock, going above and beyond to meet the demand of clients from out of state.

We also see heroes in the abortion funds, advocacy groups, donors, friends and abortion navigators that connect people to reproductive care. Since recently resuming abortion navigation,  I've witnessed the emotional heroism of our navigators who meet patients where they are, moving them from a place of anger, grief, fear and confusion to empowerment and action.

These heroes and a record number of Americans supporting abortion rights and choosing to talk openly about it give me hope. 

And the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision gives me hope. Strong-willed Texans gave us Roe in the first place. Texas lawyers Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington took Roe to the Supreme Court and won. I'm confident Texans will once again play a monumental role in not only restoring but expanding reproductive rights in our state and nation.  


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