Fighting Restrictions

As physicians, we support access to comprehensive reproductive health care services for all women. 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.

Restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds and waiting periods, bans on abortion care after 20 weeks, laws prohibiting telemedicine for medication abortion or preventing minors from giving their own informed consent, and bills like the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) create unnecessary hardship for patients who are seeking abortion services. Moreover, they serve only to create barriers to safe, legal abortion care.

In no area of medicine other than abortion care 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.

Despite the equal, intrinsic value of all medical professionals and all patients, American federal and state governments have enacted laws and policies that interfere with abortion providers’ ability to care for their patients.

Some restrictions, known as targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP laws), impose onerous restrictions on abortion providers that are not required of other outpatient surgical and medical care. Some require abortion care to take place in a hospital or other specialized facility, rather than in a physician’s office. Others institute new architectural and licensing requirements on abortion clinics.

Certain states now impose follow-up procedures after a medication abortion, while others necessitate reporting abortion complications and issue penalties for noncompliance.

As physicians, we know that when providers are prevented from helping their patients, women and families suffer. Read more about our efforts to fight restrictions on abortion.

Related Posts:

On the Supreme Court Steps, Our Doctors Are Proud Abortion Providers

Doctors at the Supreme Court RallyToday, during the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, hundreds of reproductive rights supporters rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States. As our colleagues at the Center for Reproductive Rights argued the case inside, speakers from all backgrounds–elected officials, college students, reproductive justice advocates, spiritual leaders, and abortion providers–stood up and said: Stop the sham. 

As our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta said: “When we stand against these sham laws we are standing up for women who have the least access to care, who face the most discrimination, and who are least likely to be able to travel to the only open clinic that may now be hundreds of miles away. We need to ensure that ALL women, no matter their zip code, have access to the care they need and deserve.”

You can watch the entire rally, which features speeches from Dr. Gupta, our board chair-elect Dr. Willie Parker, and Leadership Training Academy alums Dr. Sara Imershein and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, on YouTube.

Finally, we would like to share a wonderful video that was submitted as part of our “Why I Provide/Why I Support” project by Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH, MBA, who is Vice President for External Medical Affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In this beautiful video, she talks about why she provided abortions as a physician and why she supports all abortion providers and all women who seek abortion care. Please watch it and share with friends and loved ones.

If you’re feeling inspired, please send us your own video. Read more about the project here

Doctors’ Stories at the Heart of Amicus Brief

“It’s crucial that we doctors share our stories and in doing so advocate for our patients.”

New York, NY—Physicians for Reproductive Health has filed an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.  In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over portions of Texas law HB2—a measure designed to shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortion under the false pretense of improving women’s health. The amicus brief, authored by lawyers from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, shares personal stories from several doctors, illustrating their manifold reasons for providing abortion care.

“It’s crucial that we doctors share our stories and in doing so advocate for our patients,” Physicians board chair Nancy Stanwood, MD, MPH, said. “As physicians who provide abortions, we are humbled and honored to be there for our patients—whether it’s when they come to our offices or when they need us to speak up for their reproductive rights. This brief, which features doctors from many different backgrounds and from all over the country, is a testament to why we provide this essential care.”

Excerpts from the brief:

“I decided to become an ob/gyn because I believe that educating and providing reproductive health care can effect one of the most profound, positive changes in the life of a woman as well as in the lives of those around her. In the course of a morning, I can counsel a woman on terminating an unwanted pregnancy, provide prenatal care to another, and speak to a third about fertility treatments. The ability to give a woman the option to take control of her health and fertility, thereby empowering her to take control of her life, is not an obligation of my profession but a privilege that I am fortunate to fulfill.”Rachna Vanjani, MD, Contra Costa, CA

“My goal as an abortion provider is to create a non-judgmental space for women to make their decision and to provide the best quality medical care. The longer I have worked in this area, taking care of patients in so many different situations with different responsibilities, medical histories, or family structures, the more I recognize that it isn’t my role to have a say in their decision. I feel really good providing this care because I know I’m helping these women when they need it. That’s my calling as a doctor.” — Sarah Wallett, MD, MPH, Kentucky

“I had the opportunity to work abroad in Zimbabwe, where abortion is illegal. I saw many women who were suffering from botched, unsafe abortions— women who never recovered. The experience made me realize how important safe, legal abortion is in the United States, but also how tenuous that right can seem these days. As a doctor and an advocate, I’m determined to make sure that abortion remains accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or how much money they make.” — Andrea Jackson, MD, MAS, San Francisco, CA

“My belief in God tells me that the most important thing you can do for another human being is to help them in their time of need. That’s why I have provided abortions full-time since 2009. I do not miss my easier path. I know that providing abortion care is just and noble and right.” Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, Birmingham, AL

The amicus brief can be read and downloaded here: bit.ly/PRHamicusbrief

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

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Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Texas Clinic Shutdown Law

SCOTUSWe 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 ensure women’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.”

Read her entire statement here. 

Doctors Group Responds to Supreme Court’s Movement on Clinic Shutdown Laws

Deceptive, dangerous laws like HB 2 do nothing to protect women’s health

New York, NY—Physicians for Reproductive Health hails the Supreme Court’s decision to review Texas’ burdensome and dangerous clinic shutdown law, HB 2.

From board chair Nancy Stanwood, MD, MPH:

“Reproductive clinic shutdown laws are counter to good medical practice and dangerous for women. While their proponents claim to be protecting women’s health, they are doing the exact opposite by making safe care out of reach. By these unnecessary and manipulative laws, Texas legislators disrespect Texas women and harm their health.

“As a physician caring for women for two decades, I say most emphatically to the politicians who crafted these dangerous restrictions: If you really are concerned with the care a woman receives, you would lift the restrictions that bar access to high quality, safe, legal abortion care—not shut down the compassionate and reputable health care professionals who offer it.

“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.”

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