“I found my sense of purpose and place by making the decision to provide abortions,
and it is very much consistent with my core values, in regard to my spirituality and my humanity. That's why I do this work.”
Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc
As physicians, we believe that speaking about abortion helps remove the stigma that has been attached to it by anti-choice lawmakers and organizations. Legislation that puts politics and ideology before the doctor-patient relationship interferes with our ability to provide the highest level of care to our patients.
In no area of medicine other than abortion do our state and federal governments impose morality-based legislation that has the potential to criminalize doctors and manipulate patients in an attempt to sway their health care decisions.
Physicians for Reproductive Health fights for improved access to safe, legal abortion services by advocating at the state and federal levels, speaking out in the media, and encouraging comprehensive reproductive health education in medical residency education.
I stopped doing obstetrics in 2009 to provide abortion full time for women who needed help. Invariably I field questions regarding my decision, with the most often asked being: Why? The short answer is: Because I can. And: Because if I don’t, who will?
The piece highlights how hard it is for women in this country, especially those of color and living in poverty, to obtain abortion care. Restrictive state-laws are being implemented at a rapid rate, creating unnecessary and harmful obstacles to care. Heroic and dedicated doctors like Dr. Parker are doing all they can, under circumstances not seen anywhere else in medicine, to respond to their patients’ needs.
If Dr. Parker’s op-ed today inspired you, we hope you will take the time to add your voice in support of access to safe and legal abortion care by participating in our “Why I Provide/Why I Support” video project. Read more about how you can submit a video here.
If you are a medical professional, we want you and those you know to raise your voice in support of access to safe and legal abortion care by participating in our “Why I Provide/Why I Support” video project.
We’re collecting short videos (a minute long or less) that illustrate why you are proud to be an abortion provider (or, for those who don't provide, why you support those who do). This is a chance to lift up the voices of and stand in solidarity with those who ensure that patients can access the care they need.
We are hopeful that these combined efforts, and many others across the next few months, will give us a number of high quality, articulate, and inspiring statements we can air on our website and on YouTube to encourage more of our community to speak out proudly and assertively in support of abortion providers.
Need inspiration? Take a look at our video, "Why I Provide."
We are thrilled to learn that the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the case that will determine whether the state of Texas can shut down nearly all abortion care providers in the state, placing countless women at risk. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, our colleagues at the Center for Reproductive Rights are representing medical caregivers in their efforts to ensurewomen’s access to safe and legal abortion care.
Our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood responded to the news: “Laws like HB 2 create sharp disparities in access to care that are reminiscent of the time before Roe v. Wade, when abortion access depended on a woman’s socioeconomic status, where she lived, or her ability to travel elsewhere to get the care she needed. This must stop. It is our hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the Constitution and protect a woman’s right to access safe, legal health care without these undue burdens.”
September 30 marked the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which denies women coverage for abortion if they receive insurance through the government, with limited exceptions. This impacts not only those who have Medicaid insurance, but also those who are insured through the Indian Health Service, serve in the military or the Peace Corps, or hold federal government jobs.
As physicians, we believe a woman’s health insurance should cover all of her health care needs, no matter what coverage she has or what income she makes. We want her to be able to make the best possible decisions or herself and her family. Currently, the Hyde Amendment creates unjust barriers for those struggling to get by and interferes with their ability to determine the best health care option for themselves and their families. This arcane legislation also creates a patchwork of abortion access across the country, as Dr. Lin Wang points out, because only 17 states offer abortion coverage through state-sponsored Medicaid. In 2015 in the United States, abortion access should not be dictated by zip code.
“There are certain patients whose stories stay with me,” says our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta. “I think of the mother with two children under four, who was also putting herself through school and working full time. She was sacrificing so much to build a happy future for her family–and when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she knew a third child would make that future tenuous; the cost of childcare alone would have been financially impossible for her.
“I also think about the woman who was living in her car with her boyfriend when she came to my office. Or the one who could barely make it to her appointment because she had to borrow her friend’s unreliable car, as she lacked one of her own, and lived in a very rural part of the county.
“It’s outrageous that politicians would presume that someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, who would struggle to collect funds for an abortion, would somehow be able to financially and emotionally support a child. The truth is that none of us, including the legislators that continue to uphold the Hyde Amendment, knows what a woman is going through in this situation. However, when Medicaid covers prenatal care but denies coverage for abortion, that takes away a woman’s ability to make important, personal decisions based on what is best for her individual circumstances.”
Because Physicians opposes abortion coverage restrictions of any kind, we have added our name to the groundswell of voices who support All Above All’s mission to “make Hyde history.”