In Harvey's Wake

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Whole Woman's Health provided free abortions to 85 women affected by Hurricane Harvey, the clinic said Monday.

The procedures, which took place at the clinic's Austin and San Antonio locations, were offered for free to Harvey victims during September. A dozen other women received free consultations through the clinic but did not have abortions performed.

The services would have cost $50,620 in total but were paid for by the clinic's Stigma Relief Fund.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, said that after a natural disaster, it is especially critical to ensure women have access to care.

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"It changes their situation," she said after the clinic announced the free services.

The organization also offered free abortions after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.

Melissa Conway, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, said abortions are "never free."

"As so many are living in the tragic remains of Harvey, now more than ever is the time to protect the most vulnerable among us and to combat the predatory schemes of big business abortion," Conway said in September.

Whole Woman's Health, a national abortion provider with four locations in Texas, was founded in 2003 and sees more than 30,000 women each year. In addition to providing a full suite of gynecological care, including services such as STI testing, Pap smears and birth control prescriptions, the organization is involved in abortion rights advocacy work in Texas and nationally.

As a result of that work, Whole Woman's Health has had a troubled legal relationship with Texas. The clinic recently sued the state over a law that would have banned the most common second-trimester abortion procedure; in a victory for abortion providers, a judge ruled in August to temporarily halt that ban from going into effect.

One of the state's most restrictive abortion laws, passed in 2013, forced the clinic's Austin location to shutter. After the U.S. Supreme court struck down parts of that law in 2016, the location reopened this spring.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Whole Woman's Health Clinic has already put more than $8,000 toward providing abortions for women affected by the hurricane. [Full story]

  • The Texas Tribune spoke to Whole Woman's Health founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller ahead of the Friday reopening of the organization's Austin location. [Full story]

  • Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas Coast and left Houston — the nation's fourth-largest city — grappling with unprecedented flooding. Do you need help? Or do you want to help those in need? Check out these resources. [Full story]

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