On May 2, Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint asks the Office for Civil Rights to investigate MedStar Washington Hospital’s discriminatory practice of prohibiting its physicians and health care providers from speaking publicly about abortion. Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood issued this statement in support of Dr. Horvath-Cosper:
“Physicians for Reproductive Health supports the efforts of Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, a fellow of our Leadership Training Academy, to be a vocal advocate for reproductive health. We are deeply concerned that she has been forced to choose between her job and her conviction to speak out about providing abortion care.
“As physicians, we have a professional duty to talk about injustices that affect our patients. From health care reform to combating gun violence, to advocating for safe and timely access to abortion, advocacy is fast becoming a key part of being a physician. The media and policy makers look to us to help them understand medical issues.
“I am an abortion provider and I feel obligated to speak out about what I do to support my patients and help combat the stigma that surrounds this essential health care. I have been fortunate to be involved with organizations that understand the importance of the physician voice and have worked carefully with the institutions where I have been employed to make sure that they are comfortable with my media and policy advocacy.
“In today’s climate of harassment, intimidation, and incendiary rhetoric, physicians that want to speak out about abortion care need to be supported, not silenced. To openly advocate as an abortion provider can carry risk, but forbidding physicians from advocating discredits the life-saving care we provide to our patients. Too many of us feel constrained by our employerswhen it comes to discussing the importance of safe and legal abortion.
“At Physicians for Reproductive Health, part of our mission is to train physicians to be equipped to speak out for their patient’s health and to feel supported by a network of colleagues around the country. To date we have trained more than 240 physicians, from a variety of medical specialties, many of whom provide abortion care. These dedicated doctors have compassion for their patients and are proud of the care they provide. We all benefit when they speak out, countering misinformation and stigma. We hope that Dr. Horvath-Cosper will soon be able to freely communicate in her personal capacity about her beliefs and experiences as an abortion provider.”