Starting in January, Texas health officials will block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds, the latest measure to bar the women’s health provider from the public insurance program. In anticipation of the cut, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit last November.
“Just because you close a clinic it doesn’t mean [abortion] stops. It stops happening safely and it stops happening legally,” Andrea Ferrigno, vice president of Whole Woman’s Health, told The Washington Post.
The Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen, Texas, has been at the forefront of the legal battle to chip away at Roe v. Wade for years. It is the one remaining abortion clinic in South Texas.
“Those women who live in poverty, who have absolutely nothing are are the ones being affected the most,” Kristeena Banda, Whole Woman’s Health clinic director, confirmed.
As more clinics close, the more of a target Banda and Ferrigno’s clinic becomes.
“I remember back in the day they would sit there and then they would pray for, like, an hour and then more people started to come and then it started to get a little bit more aggressive,” Ferrigno recalled. “And that’s when we started seeing not only more people showing up and more of the ugly signs, but then they would also interfere with our patients.”
The intimidation didn’t stop there. Employees at Whole Woman’s Health soon began to face harassment daily.
“Walking, basically every single day and having someone yell at you …; and try to paint you as a target is extremely difficult.”
Clinic employees caught protesters slashing tires and taking pictures of their license plates. But what started off as a normal conversation forced Ferrigno to make a major change.
“I had my daughter in a private Christian school. I had to pull her out of there,” she said. “One of the protesters, one day, approached me and called my daughter by her name and asked how she was doing at said school and basically just told me to watch my back.”