We are providers of compassionate reproductive health care. The people of our country trust us with their health, well-being, and reproductive futures. We serve as the bridge between our nation’s families and the fundamental care they need, whether it’s abortion, contraception, or preventive care.
Reproductive health care providers and patients are too often harmed in ways that providers and patients of other health care fields are not. Many of our incoming political leaders have supported policies that would curtail our ability to provide the full spectrum of comprehensive care for our patients. These measures will disproportionately affect low-income women, women of color, young women, immigrant women, and non-cisgender persons— communities that already suffer from health disparities and inequalities.
Some of our political/elected leaders have employed hateful, dehumanizing rhetoric that undermines our credibility, seeks to challenge our humanity, and belies our training. Some citizens have used arson, murder, and other illegal acts to target those of us who offer abortion care,and our patients. These acts threaten our well-being, and that of our patients and their families.
Despite these assaults, we vow to move forward. In light of the current political climate, we pledge to advocate for the following:
- Respect for the patient-provider relationship. Patients and their providers, not politicians, should decide together what type of contraception to use and whether to continue or end a pregnancy. Those decisions should never be constrained or coerced by the government.
- Care without discrimination. The ability to provide or obtain reproductive health care should not depend on a zip code, income, race, or source of insurance. Health care providers should be able to provide the care that is best for the patient’s health. Those clinical conversations and/or outcomes should not be dictated or influenced primarily by cost barriers.
- To give and receive care free from harm. Performing a safe, legal medical procedure should not turn a medical professional or her/his patients into targets.Reproductive health care providers, and particularly abortion providers, their patients, their families, and their co-workers have the right to work free of violence, harassment, and discrimination.
- Evidence-based care.Reproductive health care providers have the professional obligation to give patients complete, medically accurate care. They should not be required by law to lie to their patients—for example, by stating (falsely) that abortions cause breast cancer or mental health problems—or present a particular moral interpretation of the abortion procedure.
- Care when our patients need it. A health care provider should be able to provide an abortion after explaining the procedure and obtaining the patient’s consent. There is no medical reason for a patient to wait 24 hours, 72 hours, or any other length of time between consent and the abortion procedure as dictated by some state laws, unless the patient decides to do so. In fact, the earlier in pregnancy the safer the procedure so imposing delays means imposing increased risk.
- Care free from barriers. Those providing abortion care should be able to choose the treatment that is best for the individual patient. The law should not dictate courses of treatment that are not supported by medical evidence. Nor should the law require providers to add medically unnecessary steps to the abortion procedure, processes that cause delays and increase the risks for the patient.
- Respect from our employers. A health care provider should always be able to provide or refer for the evidence-based treatment that is most appropriate for their patient. They should never have to fear retaliation from an employer for ensuring their patients have access to comprehensive, high-quality medical care.
- Confidential services. Without confidentiality, many patients will forgo essential reproductive and sexual health services. Health care providers should be able to protect the confidentiality of their patients, including minors. The law should not require notification of parents or spouses before a patient can access medical services.
We pledge to advocate for these rights that all patients and providers deserve. Reproductive health care, including access to abortion and contraception, is basic health care that all individuals deserve. We will be a clear and loud voice for the health and dignity of our colleagues, patients, and the future of reproductive health in this country.