Due to the Texas trigger law enacted after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, our center has been forced to stop offering abortion care. We are still open for Sexual and Reproductive health and early pregnancy assessment services.
Even though we cannot provide abortion care at this time, the protesters are still outside of the center. Since SCOTUS overturned Roe, they have been gathering and, sometimes, increasing in numbers. They plan to continue until they see Austin Women’s Health Center shut down.
We’ve had to pivot our services, so some might ask, why are they still here? The protesters assume that anyone coming to the center is seeking an abortion and hold pink signs that read, “we are here to love you both.”
We already know that the anti-abortion movement spreads misinformation and harmful narratives. Outside of clinics, they hope to intercept or intimidate someone seeking care. While new restrictive laws may have given the anti-abortion movement more permission to amplify harmful messaging, we are not going anywhere.
Currently, some protesters are part of “40 Days for Life”, a 40-day round-the-clock prayer hosted outside abortion facilities or at other locations, visible to the public. Their mission is anti-abortion and is funded by anti-abortion religious extremist groups. Because this campaign doesn’t do anything to support life or healthcare, borrowing Rev. Terry William’s phrase, “40 Days of Lies,” feels like a more appropriate term.
What to Do When You See 40 Days For Life or Other Protesters Outside AWHC
First and foremost, your safety is our primary concern. We have on-site security for your protection and ask that you tell us immediately if a protester should approach you or if you feel unsafe at any time.
While you may or may not encounter protesters, it’s wise to take precautions so you know what to do ahead of time. Please familiarize yourself with our guidelines for avoiding protesters, which include the following:
- Familiarizing yourself with our location and building before your visit. AWHC is in a private area behind a 15-foot fence.
- If a protester approaches you while pulling up to our center, do not roll down your window. If the protester doesn’t move or steps in front of your car, please call our center immediately at 512-443-2888.
- You do not need to engage with protesters, even if they try to talk to you or hand you pamphlets.
- 40 Days For Life or other protesters might tell you lies about the center to dissuade you from entering. It’s best not to talk to them; it can help you feel more empowered to know the facts about abortion before encountering any harmful disinformation.
- Know your rights! Protesters are not allowed to touch you, block your path, or vandalize your vehicle or any other property. If your rights are in any way infringed upon, please tell our staff immediately; we are prepared to involve law enforcement.
Reading information about sexual health from trusted sources can help you identify misinformation. The Turnaway Study found that after five years, the most common emotion experienced after abortion was relief. Contrary to anti-abortion misinformation, abortions do not cause mental health problems, but being denied a wanted procedure can increase depression and anxiety. Anti-abortion groups also use fear-mongering language around sex and sexual health. Learning from comprehensive sex educators on social media can help you quickly squash lies and realize that they intend to cause shame instead of providing care.
40 Days For Life protesters may also try and get you to visit an anti-abortion clinic, or Crisis Pregnancy Center, instead of AWHC. These facilities may claim to offer free resources, like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and diapers. But they have been found to lie about their resources to dissuade people from seeking abortion care and potentially collect their data. If you need free resources, we have funding options available.
How to Get Involved
If you’re looking for ways to show your support for abortion, reproductive rights, and health access, one of the best ways is to donate to Keep Our Clinics, a campaign dedicated to protecting abortion access in America. The majority of clinics providing abortion care are independent and, with the fall of Roe, require support now more than ever.
The Keep Our Clinics fund improves security to keep patients safe from the growing anti-abortion movement, replaces equipment, covers building repairs and legal costs, and pays staff, rent, and medical supplies.
There are also plenty of other ways to show your support for reproductive and abortion rights, such as:
- Voting out anti-abortion politicians
- Sharing your story through platforms like We Testify or Shout Your Abortion
- Spreading your support through social media or by attending local actions in your area
Before coming for a visit, our staff is here to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have. If you are concerned about encountering protesters during your appointment, it can help to bring a friend or wear earplugs or headphones when you’re walking in.
AWHC is and has always been proud to serve the Austin community reproductive health care. We will not let protesters block the ability to provide comprehensive health care, and we are not going anywhere.