Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 is the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In the past few years, a woman’s right to choose whether and when to bear a child has become increasingly threatened by federal and state laws, clinic harassment, and provider violence. Because the “right to choose” depends on many factors, RH Reality Check is publishing a series of articles on abortion providers, state laws, and other threats to women’s fundamental rights under Roe.
I began providing abortions in 1974. I never imagined that in the year 2011, I would see so many efforts to separate patients from doctors and deprive women of safe, legal health care. On the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I hope you will show your support for abortion providers and the women they serve by adding your name to the Abortion Provider’s Declaration of Rights.
In Washington and in state capitals, anti-abortion legislators are working to make insurance coverage for abortion all but impossible under health reform. They are twisting a law meant to improve the health of every American into a punishment for pregnant women and their families. And in states like Nebraska, these lawmakers are putting patients at risk with scientifically unsound restrictions on the abortion procedure.
But no matter what they do, anti-abortion lawmakers can’t change the deep connection between abortion providers and patients. I am reminded of Sheila*, whom I treated about 20 years ago. She was 23 and the mother of two. Her husband had just left her, and she didn’t have a job.
As I was beginning Sheila’s abortion, I heard a loud noise right outside the clinic. I knew Operation Rescue was around and worried about what could be happening, but I continued the procedure. They started pounding on the clinic door, and I heard the glass in the door crash. Now the Operation Rescue people were coming into the clinic. (Later I saw they had used part of a telephone pole to get through.)
Sheila was terribly frightened, as I was. When I finished the procedure, she hugged me and said, “You can’t leave us now.”
I didn’t leave her then, and I won’t now. My colleagues and our supporters will stand up for Sheila and the millions of women who depend on our care, whether we’re facing clinic harassment or restrictive legislation.
Please stand with us. Put your name on the Abortion Provider’s Declaration of Rights. So far, 1,700 people have signed—physicians, activists, nurses, students, lawyers, professors, and other supporters. They represent all 50 states. They believe abortion providers and patients should enjoy the same freedoms as all other health providers and patients, unencumbered by abortion-only policies and laws.
If you have already signed, please pass the declaration to friends. Thank you.
* The patient’s name has been changed.