Why Did Wendy Davis Oppose Health and Safety Regulations for Texas Abortion Clinics?

Why Did Wendy Davis Oppose Health and Safety Regulations for Texas Abortion Clinics?

When you hear a name like “Whole Women’s Health Clinic” or “The Women’s Medical Society” you make certain suppositions. At least I always did.

Most women assume that a specific women’s health center is somehow integrated into the local network of hospitals and clinics — part of the nebulous amalgam of Public/Private health care we all depend on.

We assume that all these clinics, outpatient surgeries, and urgent care centers, are all carefully managed under various Health and Life Safety regulations. Most of us believe that the Women’s Health Centers we turn to for our most intimate needs: family planning or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases are over-seen and managed by local heath departments.

It seems that so much of our lives are directly impacted by federal, state and local regulations, we have slipped into some sort of assumption-of-compliance coma. If a clinic is operating in our neighborhood, or in near-by town, we just go to our appointment, share our medical information, and submit our bodies for treatment. We believe we can do so safely. We assume the healthcare provider has been licensed, and the facility inspected by authorities that understand that their top priority, and primary responsibility is the health and safety of the women and girls who go to that clinic for care.

However as I, and most of the country, have tragically found out, that is not the case.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the Kermit Gosnell Murder Trail Grand Jury Report…

Section I: Overview

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels– and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.

Let us say right up front that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.

Bold emphasis is mine, not indicated in the grand jury report. It was the two sentences that made me read the whole report. You can read the rest of the grand Jury report here.

I was also surprised to find out that most of the abortion facilities in Texas, and other states are privately owned, and very profitable corporations.

According to Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s own website, salaries paid to their corporate officers in 2010 were:

Cecile Richards President $353,819
Maryana Iskander Chief Operating Officer $288,886
Maria Acosta Chief Financial Officer $263,443
Vanessa Cullins VP of Medical Affairs $257,115
Barbara Otten VP of General Counsel $251,379
Laurie Rubiner VP of Public Policy $248,438
Karen Ruffatto VP of Operations $247,932
Lisa David VP of Affiliates $245,322


Clearly this is not a business nor a collection of volunteers who are struggling by on shoe-string budgets.

When we read that Whole Woman’s Health is a “privately-owned, feminist organization, committed to providing holistic care for women” we must understand that it is a business.

At the powerful theater of the Wendy Davis Filibuster to stop regulation of Texas abortion clinics and access to abortion after 18 weeks, some of gallery protesters signs admonished legislators to stay out of their uteruses.

It may be your uterus, but it is Whole Woman’s health clinic’s business model – a business model profitable enough to buy lobbyists, lawyers, TV ads, and millions of dollars of campaign donations.


In the case of Amy Hagstrom-Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, it is a profitable and successful business that let her expand operations in Texas, New Mexico, Minneapolis, and Maryland.

Do They Really Care About Women’s Health?

All other businesses in the country must comply with health and safety regulations.

If inspection of a restaurant finds health violations, the restaurant must correct them, regardless of the cost, or risk being shut down.

If a company has unsafe equipment, blocked exists, or fails to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, it must correct them, regardless of the cost, or risk being shut down.

So why are women’s health clinics exempted?

How were theses facilities approved and built in the first place?

Once health and safety violations were discovered, why didn’t they move immediately to correct them?

Why did they choose to spend their money on lobbyist, lawyers, and PR campaigns rather than fix the problems?

When women were injured and killed, why did they choose to vilify the victims?

Why do they claim the cost of complying would be too expensive, even though every other hospital and clinic in the country have to meet or exceed those same requirements?

The reasons for the new regulations are not mean-spirited or theoretical – women have been injured, women have died, women have contracted diseases and acquired infections from theses clinics. The risks are real, and continue to this very day.

Every objection raised by Planned Parenthood, Amy Hagstrom-Miller, Wendy Davis and others all comes back to how these health and safety regulations will adversely affect the profitability of the private corporations.

The Texas Department of State Health Services stated that they “recognized these potential consequences,” they also considered the state’s “vital interest in preserving potential life and improving patient safety,” ultimately concluding the ASC standards would “not unduly burden a woman’s right to an abortion.”

Miller added that her patients are so confused and scared. “Several patients in South and West Texas aren’t actually sure if abortion is still legal. Even though there’s this constitutionally protected right that exists on paper, there is no way for them to access it. We’ve had to back up and spend time informing people of some pretty basic legal facts.”

Considering the inflammatory speech and torrent of misinformation contained in the drama of the Wendy Davis session show-down, it’s little wonder the low-information voters are afraid that their rights are being snatched from them.

This is exactly the picture the live-streamed, cast of occupiers were suppose to evoke. Now each of these women will be shuttled by tee-shirted Wendy volunteers to the ballot box to vote for Wendy, so as Governor she can push back against the mean-spirited folks that want the planned Parenthood abortion clinics to be safe.


Author: H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik

I started the Inconvenient Woman Blog in 2007, and am the product of a long line of inconvenient women. The matriarchal line is French-Canadian, Roman Catholic, with a very feisty Irish great-grandmother thrown in for sheer bloody mindedness. I am a research analyst and author who has made her living studying technical data, and developing articles, training materials, books and web content. Tracking through statistical data, and oblique cross-references to find the relevant connections that identifies a problem, or explains a path of action, is my passion. I love clearly delineating the magic questions of knowledge: Who, What, Why, When, Where and for How Much, Paid to Whom. My life lessons: listen carefully, question with boldness, and personally verify the answers. I look at America through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, and an amateur historian; the popular and political culture is a ceaseless fascination. I have no impressive initials after my name. I’m merely an observer and a chronicler, an inconvenient woman who asks questions, and sometimes encourages others to look at things differently.