Physician Advocacy

Physicians for Reproductive Health Helps Physicians Change Policy

Physicians for Reproductive Health provides opportunities for physicians to get involved in local, state, and federal public policy issues. Our physicians are the best messengers to provide medically accurate information on reproductive health issues to lawmakers and the public. With Physicians for Reproductive Health, your voice can be heard!

Physicians for Reproductive Health supports policies that promote reproductive healthcare for all, including increased access to birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion services, as well as comprehensive sex education. We oppose policies that place politics over science at the expense of the reproductive healthcare of women, men, and teens.

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John Oliver and Olivia Wilde to Headline Physicians for Reproductive Health Benefit to Celebrate the Courage of Abortion Providers

Event to Honor Abortion Providers in Advance of Major Supreme Court Ruling

NEW YORK—With the Supreme Court poised to make its most significant ruling in decades on access to abortion care, Physicians for Reproductive Health will hold its annual benefit, Voices of Courage, on June 7 in honor of abortion providers across the country.

This year’s event will honor two heroic physicians – Dr. David Grimes and Dr. Colleen McNicholas – and feature comedian John Oliver and actress Olivia Wilde. Like so many of their colleagues, the awardees have shown courage and resilience in the face of increased barriers to providing women with access to safe and legal reproductive health care.

“The past year has proven to be one of the most challenging for abortion access. Toxic political rhetoric and increasingly burdensome state laws have paved the way for increased targeting of abortion providers. The courage of these physicians and those that support them cannot be overlooked, which is why this year we are honoring all ’voices of courage,’” said Jodi Magee, President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “The benefit celebrates everyone who has been integral in the fight for women’s reproductive rights, including the ongoing efforts of the many advocates, supporters, and physicians across the country to ensure that every woman can make her own decision about what’s best for her family. At a critical moment for women’s health, we recognize those who are taking a stand.”

As providers prepare for the historic ruling expected next month in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the event will help raise awareness of doctors’ role in efforts to protect and expand access to high-quality care. Since 2006, Physicians for Reproductive Health has hosted an annual benefit to honor physicians who – in addition to providing evidence-based care to their own patients – have gone above and beyond to advance abortion access at the local, state, and national level.  The event will be transformed this year into a gala benefit that celebrates all voices of courage – physicians as well as the important advocates that support them.

Two awards are given every year, the William K. Rashbaum, MD, Abortion Provider Award, which honors a physician who provides outstanding abortion services and serves as an inspirational leader; and the George Tiller, MD, Abortion Provider Award, which recognizes a physician early in his or her career who provides abortions while demonstrating courage in the face of adversity.

“It is an honor to be part of an event that raises awareness of those who work daily to ensure women can access the reproductive care they need,” said Benefit Host Olivia Wilde. “The stakes have never been higher for women, and in the year 2016, women shouldn’t have to overcome so many hurdles just to access the reproductive care that is best for them. I commend the work of physicians who make it their life’s work to guarantee reproductive health care access to all women who need it across our nation.”

This year, Dr. David Grimes will receive the William K. Rashbaum, MD award for lifetime achievement. A provider, researcher, author, teacher, and advocate, Dr. Grimes’s medical career began in 1972 – just prior to the Roe v. Wade decision. Dr. Grimes spent many years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping to chronicle the public health benefits of legal abortion and in recent years, he has led international research on abortion and contraception for a World Health Organization Task Force. A pillar in the reproductive rights community, Dr. Grimes has used his training and background to provide expert testimony to Congress and state and federal courts, worked with lawmakers to ensure regulations are grounded in science, and educated many others through his writings and online. Based in North Carolina, he has been a clinical professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine since 1998 and a fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research University of North Carolina since 2000 where he trained medical students and residents in abortion. Dr. Grimes recently published a book, Every Third Woman in America, which documents the impact of safe and legal abortion in America.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas will be honored with the George Tiller, MD award for outstanding courage in hostile and challenging environments. A tireless advocate for reproductive access, Dr. McNicholas provides abortion care at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Recently, conservative lawmakers put pressure on the University of Missouri to revoke the hospital privileges that allowed Dr. McNicholas to provide care in Columbia, leaving St. Louis as the only clinic in Missouri that is able to provide abortion. She also travels to Kansas to provide abortion services in Wichita, the city where Dr. Tiller worked tirelessly for decades, drawing the attentions of Troy Newman and Operation Rescue.  Dr. McNicholas teaches at Washington University, serves on committees of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists at the national and state levels, and travels frequently to Washington, DC, and Jefferson City to raise awareness about abortion restrictions that affect her patients. Dr. McNicholas is a catalyst for change. She started a Medical Students for Choice chapter as a medical school student and when Missouri passed a three-day mandatory waiting period law that raised costs for her patients, she helped found the Gateway Women’s Access Fund to assist them.  She was recently featured in the June issue of Marie Claire magazine.

“Although abortion is technically legal, individual states are going to greater and greater lengths to restrict access to abortion for all women—a trend that hasn’t been discussed nearly enough,” said Physicians’ Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood. “Right now, there are bills moving or proposed in 24 states that restrict legal reproductive care, question the knowledge and abilities of trained physicians, and threaten women’s health. At a time when there is so much coverage of political opinions on abortion, we must listen to and respect the advice of the experts who know the facts: the physicians who provide reproductive care.”

Proceeds from the benefit will support Physicians’ programs and members in the continual fight for reproductive rights, including the Partnership for Physician Safety – a new program to support providers in crisis situations – and the Leadership Training Academy, a program that prepares physicians across the country to become lifelong leaders in reproductive health advocacy. These initiatives foster a community of physicians who will work throughout their careers to protect and advance comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care.

Tickets are currently available and can be purchased on the Physicians for Reproductive Health website. For more information, or if you are interested in covering the event, please contact Margy Levinson at or 646-335-0441.


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

Medical Groups Issue Amicus Brief in Support of Contraception Access

“Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals.”

New York, NY— The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Nurses Association, along with other medical groups, have filed an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the accommodation offered to religiously affiliated organizations by the Affordable Care Act violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The amicus brief explains that contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families.

Background: In implementing the contraceptive benefit, the Obama Administration accommodated certain employers with religious objections to birth control by allowing them to opt out of covering it for their employees, provided that they fill out a form notifying their insurer, or the government, of the employer’s objection. If the employer provides such notice, the insurer would then provide coverage to the employee at no cost to the employer. Despite this, several employers have sued the Administration, alleging that the accommodation violates RFRA. Now, the Supreme Court will review seven of these challenges as part of Zubik v. Burwell.

Excerpt of amicus brief: The contraception coverage requirement recognizes that women of childbearing age have unique health needs and that contraception counseling and services are essential components of women’s preventive health care. Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals based on the best interests of the patient. This is best accomplished when contraceptive coverage is provided within the same overall framework as a woman’s other health care services in consultation with a woman’s chosen provider. The accommodation accomplishes this, while at the same time respecting an employer’s sincerely held religious objections to contraception….

Under the accommodation, prescription contraceptives are covered seamlessly and automatically as part of a woman’s health insurance package. If access to appropriate, cost-free contraception is removed from women’s routine health care services or is made more difficult to obtain, the likely result is that many women will simply not use contraception or will use an imperfect form of contraception inconsistently or improperly, with a concomitant increase in unintended pregnancies with all their consequences.  

The amicus brief can be read and downloaded here:

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 23.


On the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Our Doctors #ReclaimRoe

Antonella LavelanetForty-three years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States in its landmark decision on Roe v. Wade. In the current political climate, there is reason to celebrate another year with legal abortion as the law of the land. But there is no doubt that millions of women cannot exercise this constitutional right without overcoming significant barriers.

Physicians for Reproductive Health is doing everything we can to #ReclaimRoe, making the promise of Roe v. Wade a reality for every single woman in America. As part of today's anniversary, we are pleased to feature a piece by current Leadership Training Academy fellow, Antonella Lavelanet, DO, JD.

Late in 2015, a United Nations Working Group traveled to the United States to assess the state of U.S. women’s human rights, including the ability to access comprehensive reproductive health care. As a self-proclaimed world leader devoted to medical and scientific advancement, one might expect that the U.S. leads the pack in terms of protecting the health of its citizens. And yet, what the UN group found instead were core failures to advance women’s standing in society. In its initial report, the group’s human rights experts pointed out that paid maternity leave is not universal in our country, that U.S. policy- and law-making bodies lack adequate representation of women and their needs, and that the full spectrum of reproductive health care services is not accessible to many women.

As an obstetrician/gynecologist specializing in family planning, these findings come as no surprise to me. Continue reading Dr. Lavelanet's piece >>