In her New York Times article “The New Abortion Providers,” Emily Bazelon tells us whom to thank for much of the courageous funding of training and research for abortion and birth control that help countless of millions of women in this country and worldwide. A resounding thank you to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation for boldly providing funds that have been so needed. If every woman whose life has been positively affected by that funding could add her voice to the thank you it would drown out the noise of harassment and intimidation that we have almost come to accept as normal in today’s world.
We live in a pluralistic society in which we respect the religious and cultural differences that make our communities so rich. That respect must include making it possible for women to make the best decisions they can for themselves and their families whether a political minority disagrees or not. It is ironic that the tea baggers who have come to dominate the political conversation of late demand that the government be out of every area of life that could help people, and also demand that government control the most personal and private dimensions of women’s reproduction. Thank goodness there are people like those who run the Buffett Foundation who will stand up against this tyranny.
Who actually benefits from the culture of fear that the anti-abortion zealots have imposed on the medical community, the political community, and the religious community? Certainly not women or children. Decisions made out of fear are not based on principles, or ethics, much as the ultra-conservatives would claim. There are more than fifty million women in this country who have chosen legal abortion—and another 50 million men intimately involved in that experience. It is time we came out of the closet to claim what we have known all along—that we are good people making moral choices in difficult circumstances.
Bazelon also profiles a number of courageous doctors who continue to help women in spite of an atmosphere of terrorism. But why is it that we allow this toxic atmosphere to continue? It’s time for a new kind of Conscience Clause that respects the determination of physicians, social workers, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, counselors, teachers, politicians, and family members to provide compassionate care to those who need it in all areas of reproductive life, including abortion.
As Director of the Abortion Care Network, a national organization of independent abortion providers and allies, I want to add a word about the importance of the individualized caring that freestanding independent clinics have pioneered. Independent abortion providers challenge the intentional stigmatization of abortion every day by reminding our patients and their families of their goodness. As some abortion services move back into the mainstream into hospitals and private practices, it is essential that the compassion and woman centered model of independent providers be maintained and that independent clinics receive the respect and appreciation we have earned.
Director, Abortion Care network