Media Center: Abortion

By age 40, one in three American women will have had an abortion, yet abortion remains one of the most controversial medical procedures.  Each year, scores of state and federal laws are introduced to chip away at women’s right to abortion. Most recently, the health reform law opened a window for states to ban insurance policies that cover many abortions. In addition to dealing with onerous restrictions, many providers live in fear of harassment or physical threats.

Physicians for Reproductive Health can offer the facts about medical and surgical abortion, firsthand accounts of being a provider, and a window into the lives of women who choose abortion.

What Our Doctors Are Saying

“Fear of harassment keeps some doctors from performing abortions. For me, the reason to provide abortions is much more powerful: Women need my help, and the help I give them changes their lives.
—Physicians for Reproductive Health board member Willie Parker, MD, MPH, The Washington Post



Media Resources:

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:

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


Physicians’ Statement on Planned Parenthood Colorado Springs Attack

On behalf of Physicians, our board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH, has issued the following statement:

Yesterday our medical community, and our country, were rocked by a heinous act of terrorism against a clinic that provides reproductive health services. As physicians, we stand in solidarity today and every day with our colleagues across the nation.

This campaign of terror — waged over decades against those of us who provide this critical care — is reprehensible and must end. The poisonous environment that incubates this terrorism, and the passivity of elected officials who tolerate it, must end as well.

This morning, our hearts are heavy but our resolve is strong. And this morning, just as we did yesterday morning, doctors, nurses, and clinic staff went to work at reproductive health clinics across our country.

We are there because our conscience compels us to be there. We are there because we see our patients’ need and we must respond. We are there because no act of violence is stronger than an act of compassion. And that is what we do for our patients: we serve them not only with excellent medical care, but with the compassion they deserve. 

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.”


Doctors Group: Politicians Try To Take Medical Decision-Making Away from Doctors and Patients

Abortion bans threaten women’s health and well-being.

New York, NY — Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians) joins other major medical groups in applauding Senate champions today who defeated H.R. 36, a dangerous ban on abortion after 20 weeks that would threaten the health and well-being of women facing complex life circumstances.

Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow for Physicians Pratima Gupta, MD, MPH, commented:

“Anti-choice politicians are relentless in their campaign to insert themselves into the private medical decisions of women and families. This is a discussion best had by patients and their trusted medical care providers, not by politicians. H.R. 36, a bill that would have banned abortion care after 20 weeks, ignores the true situations faced by some women and places their health and well-being in jeopardy.

“Doctors and their patients may determine that abortion care after 20 weeks is the best medical option for a variety of reasons. This bill would have stripped women of that option, even if a difficult situation makes it impossible to have a child. My colleagues and I are grateful for those elected officials who stood with our patients and voted against this dangerous bill.”