Mar 23, 2023 - News

Whole Woman's Health opens New Mexico abortion clinic

Illustration of a pill with an unlocked padlock top

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Nine months after Roe v. Wade was overturned and abortion clinics were shuttered in Texas, Whole Woman's Health opened its long-awaited abortion clinic in New Mexico on Thursday.

Why it matters: After abortion clinics in Texas had to close last summer — including the Whole Woman's Health clinics in Austin, McAllen, Fort Worth and McKinney — pregnant Texans seeking abortions had to travel hundreds of miles for the procedure.

  • The new abortion clinic in Albuquerque will serve New Mexico residents, plus folks from other states, like Texas and Oklahoma.

Flashback: Whole Woman's Health operated in Texas for nearly 20 years. After its clinics were forced to close in July, the organization launched a GoFundMe page to raise $750,000 to open a site in New Mexico.

  • "Even when the courts and the politicians have turned their backs on Texans, we never will," Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, had said in a statement.

State of play: The organization has raised more than $330,000 on GoFundMe, enough to secure a location and transport three 18-wheeler trucks of equipment from storage in Texas.

  • Whole Woman's Health now has six clinics in Minnesota, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland and now New Mexico, plus a virtual care program that sends abortion pills by mail to New Mexico, Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois.

Details: Whole Woman's Health of New Mexico will provide first- and second-trimester in-clinic abortion procedures up to 18 weeks of gestational age and has plans to expand care up to 24 weeks in the near future.

  • The clinic also provides medication abortion care up to 11 weeks.
  • The starting goal is to serve 75 patients a week.

Between the lines: The fully bilingual clinic staff aims to create an environment that helps patients shed personal and cultural shame and stigma around abortion care.

The intrigue: Whole Woman's Health chose Albuquerque because it's in a "safe state" and is easy to fly into.

  • Hagstrom Miller says she chose a city over a small border town so patients and staff could be in a more populated area where they could blend in.
  • Of note: 23 patients — 21 traveling from Texas and two from Louisiana — have already booked appointments for the opening weekend.

What they're saying: "In 2020, Texas had about 55,000 abortions annually. The need is great for people who are being denied abortions in the Southwest region, and so we hope to meet the need," Hagstrom Miller told Axios.

  • "It's really gonna be a huge difference for us to be able to say, 'Yes, we can see you. You don't have to travel as far.'"

Context: Before the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, Texans seeking abortions had to travel on average 44 miles — even less in cities like Houston.

  • Now, the average number of miles a Texan has to travel is 497 miles, per the Texas Observer.
  • Abortion clinics that have remained open have been inundated with clients after residents of states like Texas traveled across state lines.
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