Here's our friend Amy's Roe speech: glad there is some roe celebration going on somewhere...
31st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Speech to Voices for Choice Rally at the University of Texas
January 22nd, 2004
My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller. I am the Executive Director and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. I am an abortion provider. I have worked with women seeking abortions for 15 years – in fact, my first job right out of college was at an abortion clinic and I have been working in this field ever since. I believe I am still here today because of the fire that was lit in me when I was in college and I attended the 1989 March for Women’s lives in Washington. I can’t tell you what it feels like to stand with so many people in our nation’s capitol and demand to be heard. I hope that all of you are planning to go to Washington this April. Whole Woman’s Health is a proud sponsor of the Texas delegation!!!
So, on a day like today, a big part of me would like to be really sarcastic – to say, “oh great, look how far 31 years has gotten us.”
·We have draconian laws that are insulting to women
·people like Chris Danze and his minions are allowed to send hate mail around calling me a serial killer
·the anti’s make threatening phone calls our landlords our contractors.
It has been a big year in Texas for women’s health - that’s for sure…. It makes a girl ask, what’s going on here???
Instead of complaining, however, I’ve chosen to take the opportunity presented to us on the anniversary of Roe to tell you a bit about what it is like to be an abortion provider, and what our lives are like here in Texas at Whole Woman’s Health.
Let me start by bringing those of my staff who are here up front to stand by me and be recognized. These women ROCK. They are dedicated, strong, compassionate, empathetic and amazing….. I invite each of you in this crowd to talk with these women before you go home today– to hear what our lives are like and to hear the stories of the women and families we care for every day in our work. Whole Woman’s Health is a woman owned, woman centered clinic where we are transforming women’s lives every single day. The work we do is profound and we are very, very proud to be abortion providers.
I’ll start with a question…. How many of you have either had an abortion or know someone who has?
Wow – look around you!
Did you know that 43% of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45??? That is nearly 50% of the women you know – 50% of the women standing here. And every abortion involves more than one person – the woman’s partner – husband – boyfriend – best friend – mom – sister – dad – aunt….. Yet, when you have an abortion, no one brings a casserole over to your house…There is no Hallmark card to send…
When you think about it - it is almost impossible to believe that an experience shared by so many in our culture still carries the stigma that abortion does. Abortion is nearly always accompanied by SILENCE, and all too often by shame and guilt…..
So many of our patients believe that they are the only woman they know who has had an abortion – the only Christian who has had an abortion, the only mom who has had an abortion, the only lawyer who has had an abortion.
Our patients are constantly AMAZED when we tell them that 43% of women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Please take one of our 43% buttons before you leave today, wear it proudly, and welcome the conversation it will start with passers by. I invite each of you to break the silence and deconstruct the stigma every time you are given the opportunity.
So, what’s it like to work in an abortion clinic?
Over the years, I have learned that abortion really isn’t about abortion at all. It is about nearly every thing in our culture that has to do with anything. It is about life – death – sex - power – religion – God – family. An unplanned pregnancy experience shines a bright light on a woman’s life. The experience challenges her to look at everything – her hopes and her dreams, her relationship choices, her ideas about family and career, her plans for the future, her intentions. For many women abortion can be a transformational experience – one where she actively chooses what she wants for her life - one where she is in charge.
Standing by women and their families in this process is amazingly powerful. We get to listen to women – we hear their dreams – we hear what is truly in their hearts. We invite the difficult stuff and the conflicts that often accompany the abortion experience. We would like to share some of our patient’s words with you by reading the journal entries from women we have seen at Whole Woman’s Health. Let’s let the women speak for themselves, through my staff: (Staff read patient quotes)
#1 Read by Lane, Patient Advocate
The whole idea of writing in this book seemed very silly to me when I first got here. I was an emotional wreck. I have had one abortion when I was 18 and two miscarriages. All with my husband of 2 years. We deeply wanted the children of those miscarriages. It was extremely hard to let go. Now we are at a point in our life where we want to enjoy each other and being young. We are both 23. I found out I was pregnant and it was a hard blow. We had acquired a lot of debt and also made some career changes. I recently had some cosmetic surgery done and we both felt that we were not mentally, physically, or financially ready to pursue parenthood. We needed to get a house, pay off debt and just be stable enough to have children. You know, all the things we thought we’d accomplish before we had children wasn’t done yet. i.e. college, vehicles lifestyle etc……My husband and I decided abortion was right for us. We cried a lot but made it through. There is lots of heartbreak, however, after the procedure, all the feelings of sadness, anger, helplessness and worry, turned to relief, happiness and a sense of peace. So ladies, the procedure went well and the staff was absolutely wonderful. No regrets…
#2 Read by Gianna, Social Worker
As I sit here watching my little girl recover- it is hard. She is my baby and I wanted to protect her from all of life’s bad and sadness. It hurts me to see her hurt the turmoil she must have gone through before even telling me. She was further along than 15 wks. So that is why we are here. When I asked her in APR- may if she was pregnant she told me no. I think that deep down I knew but I just didn’t want to believe it and deal with it. After she told me last week she said that she thought that I would be disappointed in her. My child doesn’t realize that no matter what- I will always love and support her and she could never disappoint me. I would do anything for her- At any age this decision to terminate is difficult and at 15- she is still a child- cartoons all day. I was with her during the procedure and it was difficult for me. To see my child having this done and saying goodbye to a tiny soul. I thought that I was out of tears but they come anew. I sincerely also want to say the staff was wonderful and supportive, it helps!
#3 Read by Rebecca, Counselor
Being a single mother of 3, I feel that I have been blessed not only once, but 3 times. I recently met a man who not only loves me but my 3 children. This abortion was a difficult decision but in my heart the right one for all involved. God pleases forgive me, I want to thank the awesome and enthusiastic staff who took care of me and supported me and my decision. Thank you once again.
#4 Read by Tricia, Patient Advocate
It’s hard to see your little girl grow up and go through such a tough decision. You want to hold her tight and kiss her boo-boo away. But this time a kiss doesn’t make it go away. She’ll always be my little angel no matter what happens through all her life. I’m standing behind her to catch her when she falls. And letting her know she’ll never be alone. And this choice she’s made doesn’t make me love her any less. It let’s me know that my little girl is growing up. Cuz, it take’s a wise person to make such a grownup choice. Even though I’m having to say good-bye to my grandson or granddaughter, I know God will bless her with a child, when she is ready for it. And when I’m old enough to be a grandmother. Ha! Ha! Thank you so much to the staff and Dr. for being so nice and making this easier for her.
#5 Read by Katie, social work intern
To the woman who wrote to share her story from July 18, you have written my experience as well. As a mom, a woman who has raised my daughter for all these years, the pain for both has been huge. I am grateful that my child lives in a time where, choices, as agonizing and as heart wrenching as they may be- she does have the ability to make those decisions. I wish all the women who choose abortion, to choose recovery and healing as well. Talk, get some help from someone you trust to help work thru whatever follows you from this, and be kind to your own heart and soul. My heart has ached beyond words during this difficult time. But today, I held my child’s hand through each moment and I too said goodbye to a tiny soul who was a possible part of me my daughter- our lives. I pray that my daughter looks forward, to what is possible for her life, and be grateful she could choose to do so. I love her, there will never be a time I wouldn’t love her. This is her journey, mine to share by invitation and thank her for that.
#6 Read by Denise, registered nurse
For all of those who come after me, that there are plenty of people who understand what you are going through. To all of the staff, thank you for everything that you all do everyday. I know that this is a field surrounded by controversy, and many may frown upon what you do, but you make such a wonderful difference in the lives of so many. I’m an 18 year old college freshman with out this abortion my life would be such a mess. Thank you. And to God please forgive me of my sins, I’m sorry, please don’t hold this against me or Mike. I know I’m not the best Christian, but I will try. Thank you all so much
And a last quote from one of my favorite abortion providers, Dr. George Tiller: “Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all.”
Let me encourage you to speak from your heart and demand to be heard. Let me challenge you to activism like you have never done. There is a reason we are right here right now and we get to decide what we will do with this opportunity. What will Texas look like if we decide – right now – to be the Sarah Weddington, Molly Ivans and Ann Richards of the next generation???
Please wear your buttons, volunteer, go to the March, speak up about your abortion experiences, break the silence and TRUST WOMEN. Come and visit our clinic and volunteer with us to help women directly. We have an opportunity right here and right now to make a real difference.
Thank you and Happy Roe day!!!