We are pleased to announce that this year’s Kenneth J. Ryan, MD, Memorial Program Award recipient is Dr. Valerie Williams. Physicians for Reproductive Health CEO Jodi Magee and past Board Chair/Ryan Committee member Dr. Doug Laube presented Dr. Williams with the Ryan Award on May 16, during the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical Meeting.
On February 3, we announced Dr. Valerie Williams as the 2016 Ryan Memorial Scholarship Award recipient. Dr. Williams is currently Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in New Orleans, LA. She has distinguished herself by spearheading a new Ryan Program at LSU, in an area of the country that faces great unmet need for family planning services. A native of Houston, Dr. Williams has always held a special connection to the South, and she was naturally drawn to serve the people of New Orleans. Before Dr. Williams arrived at LSU, resident teaching regarding contraception and abortion was minimal, and devices like the manual vacuum aspirator were not available for use. Drawing on her abortion and contraception learned during her time in Colorado, Dr. Williams introduced training for residents about LARC and how to perform suction dilation and curettage using manual vacuum aspirators, and she has worked tirelessly to ensure that her patients and her residents have access to the services and training they deserve. Dr. Williams’s passion for reproductive health access has endeared her to her department and her residents. Despite the challenges she faces working in a conservative area, Dr. Williams refuses to be stopped from providing excellent service to her patients and her residents.
Congratulations, Dr. Williams!
On May 19, the Oklahoma state senate passed legislation that would criminalize doctors who perform abortions, amounting to a complete ban on abortion services in the state. Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood issued the following statement:
“This dangerous and unconstitutional legislation in Oklahoma is yet another egregious example of politicians attempting to illegally ban abortion by intimidating doctors from providing services. It would limit our ability to meet the needs of women and threaten us with penalties for providing safe, compassionate, and necessary care. I hope reason prevails and Governor Fallin vetoes this harmful bill.
“As a doctor, I am especially concerned that the Oklahoma legislature is suggesting that abortion is somehow separate from the practice of medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Abortion is an essential part of the full spectrum of women’s health care, and with this legislation politicians are creating a grave and irresponsible barrier against women in need of reproductive care. That’s why major medical organizations oppose this type of blatant interference into the doctor-patient relationship.
“The doctors in our organization know that women deserve better. We know that access to reproductive care is essential for women to make the best health choices for themselves and their families. So even as we face a growing number of restrictions and attacks, we are proud to continue to provide abortion care to women across the country. Our decisions to provide are not based on politics, but on the real people we work with every day. And the stories of why we provide are a testament to the importance of providing abortion access to everyone, regardless of where they live — and to protecting women’s ability to make private decisions in consultation with their doctors. Our patients deserve to have access to care with dignity and respect.”