Benita Ulisano is a co-chair of the Illinois Choice Action Team, a committed group of volunteers advancing NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission, based in Chicago.
Did you hear about NARAL Pro-Choice America's recent victories with Yahoo and Google? Both search engines agreed to enforce their truth in advertising policies and removed a slew of deceptive ads from crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that come up if you search for "abortion clinic" - even though CPCs don't provide abortion care and actively dissuade women from choosing abortion.
I'm particularly thrilled about this change because I know firsthand how dangerous CPCs are.
One of the CPCs we caught lying in a Yahoo ad is actually right around the corner from the women's health clinic here in Chicago where I run an escort program. Check out the ad - you'd never know this is for a CPC!
(Last time we checked, the CPC website referenced in this ad is down, too.)
One of CPCs' common tactics is to purposely situate themselves near real reproductive-health clinics to confuse women. This CPC is no different.
For women who figure out where the real clinic is, anti-choice activists aggressively try to prevent women from going to their appointments. They stalk around outside the clinic, hold offensive signs, and harass women as they head in for an appointment, even if it's for a birth control prescription. The staff at the reproductive-health clinic has asked me to increase the days we're organizing escorts from one day a week to four. It's that bad.
I've seen anti-choice activists approach women in their cars to intimidate and shame them. CPC activists will yell at anyone of reproductive age who just happens to walk by! The harassment is so unbelievable that some of my current clinic escorts told me they decided to volunteer because they live in the neighborhood and are sick of being harassed for walking down the street.
This is what's happening outside the clinic. What's happening inside the CPC is even more disturbing.
One woman told us that she was tricked into going to this CPC instead of the reproductive-health clinic by finding the CPC online. Mid-way during the appointment, when she realized she wasn't at the real clinic and tried to leave, CPC staff physically restrained her. We've also heard reports that inside the CPC there are photos of our pro-choice escorts posted on the wall. We provide a lot of training to our escorts so they know how to handle this kind of pressure, but of course it's intimidating to know that you've been targeted so personally.
Women who are looking for an abortion provider shouldn't have to endure the harassment and intimidation that I've witnessed firsthand - and a lot of that starts with what's happening on Internet search engines. Women deserve the truth when trying to find abortion providers or other reproductive-health services. Every day I hear about women who have to encounter anti-choice protesters from the CPC, and you wouldn't believe the lies they've been told.
I'm happy that Yahoo is reporting that it's going to do the right thing. We'll review the deceptive ads we found to verify Yahoo's claims, and we'll hold them accountable if our results don't match what they're telling the press. Enforcing their policies and taking down ads that deceive women will go a long way toward protecting women from deception.
Our Choice Out Loud - On Campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to become a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. Here's the latest post in this series.
Meet Payne McMillan:
What was your major?
I am an English major at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe that pregnancy is personal. It's nobody's business what a woman chooses to do once she is pregnant, but there needs to be structures that support her, regardless of what her decisions are. The ability to be in control of your own reproductive health is a fundamental right, as is all health care.
How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement when I signed up for Students for Reproductive Health and Choice at the St. Olaf College co-curricular fair. Going to the meetings gave me insight into how important the protection of choice is and how opponents have been chipping away at reproductive rights, especially recently. It's important that men are allies and advocates; these issues don't just affect women, but they affect families and the well-being of all people. Now I will be an informed voter that makes sure to elect legislators that protect reproductive rights.
What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
We hosted a Faith and Choice event, where we brought in Rev. Kelli Clement from the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as a speaker. She addressed how interconnected choice is with other areas of social justice. Her perspective showed that religion and abortion rights don't need to be pitted against each other, which is something most people don't realize.
What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
I've learned how to talk about these issues in an informed and respectful manner. I feel that I am well informed and can stand my ground in defending reproductive rights and educating people on the issue.
What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
I went to pro-choice lobby day in the spring of 2013 at the Minnesota Capitol. I also worked with them this fall in putting pressure on the "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC) in the town I live, Northfield.
Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Through the campus representative program, they already had a presence at St. Olaf, which made it easy to get involved. I like NARAL because it is a powerful, established organization that works efficiently and effectively in not only protecting but expanding reproductive rights.
The millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1999) is both the largest generation and the most pro-choice generation in American history. By 2020, 40% of eligible voters will be from the millennial generation. NARAL Pro-Choice America is committed to working with and learning from pro-choice millennials in order to organize in favor of reproductive freedom in a way that resonates with this important generation.
NARAL Pro-Choice America founded the Choice Out Loud - On Campus program in the Fall of 2012 as part of our strategy to engage this key generation in the fight to protect and expand reproductive rights.
Our campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to because a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. This post is the first in a series.
Meet Hailey Magee, a campus representative at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
1. What was your major?
I am a Women's and Gender Studies and Politics double major, with a minor in Social Justice and Social Policy.
2. Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe bodily autonomy is the most basic form of human freedom. The idea that any person or society could legally inhibit me from exercising my right over my own body is horrifying to me.
3. How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement? Do you intend to stay involved after you graduate?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement as a natural extension of my feminist activism. Before college I hadn't understood the gravity or salience of the reproductive rights debate. When I became president of my campus Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, I began to explore the diverse avenues through which I could create a more just society. My sophomore year, I lobbied a bill for comprehensive sex education (An Act Relative to Healthy Youth) in the Massachusetts State House, and from then on, I was hooked on reproductive justice. I spent the following summer interning for NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and have been interning for NARAL in some capacity ever since. I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Intern and Campaigns Coordinator, and would love to work for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts - or a different state affiliate - upon graduating college. This work is my lifeblood; I have never been more passionate about a cause.
4. What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
My favorite event that I assisted in planning was our Roe at Risk Mixer. Brandeis University Students for NARAL co-sponsored the screening with the Brandeis Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (a student organization) and the Women's Studies Research Center (an organization of predominantly elderly feminist resident scholars at Brandeis). The screening, followed by small group discussions that addressed the inter-generational differences in reproductive justice advocacy, brought many diverse and engaging perspectives to the table.
5. What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
As a Campus and Community Organizer, I have learned how to build a network of faculty and staff allies that can help me achieve my campaign goals as a student. I have learned how to identify, contact, and build relationships with point people on my campus - administrators and staff I particular - that can use their networks, resources, and clout to help me to foster the pro-choice atmosphere the Brandeis University students demand.
6. What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
My first official contact with NARAL Pro-Choice America occurred through a Campus Organizer conference call in October. Led by Travis Ballie, the call was engaging, inspiring, and allowed the organizers to share their progress in establish their campus coalitions with one another. Travis was an excellent facilitator, and when I came to study "abroad" in Washington, D.C. this semester, he went out of his way to let me know about NARAL events and volunteer opportunities.
7. Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Though many organizations fight for reproductive justice in some capacity, NARAL has been my favorite by far - and that's completely due to the characters that compose NARAL's staff. NARAL employees are witty, animated, intimidatingly intelligent, and passionate. In my experiences at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and now NARAL Pro-Choice America, I have consistently been floored by the warmth and acceptance with which I've been treated. The enthusiasm of NARAL staff is contagious; it is that energy and passion that attracts me to the organization.
8. What are your future plans?
I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts' Intern and Campaigns Coordinator. I plan on continuing to intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts throughout my senior year at Brandeis, and upon graduating, hope to continue working in a reproductive justice organization. When I become more familiar with the issues and the ins-and-outs of policy, I would like to become a lobbyist or policy director. In the distant future (or maybe not so distant!) I plan to run for state legislature and fight for social justice directly as an elected official.
There's something happening in Kansas that's not making national headlines but should be. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is doubling down on his anti-choice agenda. It's extreme. And he's showing no sign of stopping.
Anti-choice Gov. Brownback already signed a bill that manipulates Kansas' tax code to limit abortion care, and now he's poised to sign two more bills that would severely restrict women's access to affordable health care in the Sunflower State.
One bill - the state budget bill - includes a provision that would effectively defund reproductive-health clinics, which many women and families rely on for a full range of reproductive-health services. For many low-income families, these clinics are their only means of accessing basic health care. The second bill would extend unnecessary tax penalties on reproductive-health clinics for making renovations or even holding fundraising events!
Don't be fooled, these bills and tax penalties are really just a way for extreme anti-choice politicians to further restrict access to reproductive-health care and force their personal beliefs on all Kansas families.
Gov. Brownback has never been shy about his extreme anti-choice record: "If a pro-life bill [comes] to my desk, I will sign it. I am not backing away from that."
If he signs these bills, Gov. Brownback will pile onto his already long anti-choice resume. Just last year, Gov. Brownback signed an extreme anti-choice bill into law to effectively ban abortion in almost all cases and could outlaw many common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.
In 2012, Gov. Brownback signed a bill that allows doctors to withhold medical information if they think it will lead a woman to choose abortion or refuse treatment like chemotherapy for cancer patients if they think it would end a pregnancy. Even worse the same bill requires that doctors lie to women.
If these attacks to deny women control over the bodies and futures weren't bad enough, Gov. Brownback has spent roughly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to defend these unconstitutional laws in the courts.
Gov. Brownback has two more chances to stand up for women's freedom and privacy. It's time that he put his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda aside and prove that he's not going to punish working families and Kansan women just to score political points.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month, and we'd like to pay tribute to survivors of sexual assault by recognizing progress that's being made in the movement to make sexual assault a thing of the past.
Sexual assault is still a serious problem that must be addressed. While we still have a long way to go in terms of developing substantive solutions to preventing these crimes and tackling the negative stigma associated with sexual assault, elected officials across the country are taking steps forward to provide appropriate protections and care for survivors.
Here are four ways elected officials across the country are working to bring justice to sexual assault survivors:
1. In California, Asm. Mike Gatto is collaborating with a sexual assault survivor to make sure colleges and universities report sexual assault to police.
Sponsor: California Asm. Mike Gatto
Asm. Mike Gatto was horrified to learn that colleges were sweeping sexual assaults under the rug, so he contacted a student who, with several of her peers, had filed a federal complaint against UC Berkeley for not taking their assaults seriously. He's written legislation to require campus officials to report all sexual violence to the police unless survivors don't want their assault to be reported or wish to remain anonymous
. This bill passed unanimously
through Assembly Public Safety Committee and will head to Assembly floor for a vote
2. California is moving a bill to make sure police process rape kits more quickly.
Sponsor: California Asm. Nancy Skinner
Right now in California, there's no law that puts a deadline on how quickly rape kits must be processed. No wonder only 21-percent of sexual assaults resulted in arrest in 2012. If this bill passes, it could help bring justice for countless survivors of sexual assault.
3. In Tennessee, the state House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that eliminates the current three-year statute of limitations for survivors of rape.
Sponsors: Tennessee Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Joe Towns
This new legislation would help survivors of rape to bring their attackers to justice
regardless of how much time has passed after the vicious attack. Some victims of rape may need time to cope with their assaults and now will no longer be burdened by the three-year statute. With the statute removed, victims can work with the state to prosecute when they are ready to come forward.
4. Maryland is moving legislation to bring justice to rape survivors.
Sponsor: Del. Ariana Kelly
Right now, only one hospital in every Maryland county provides the type of exam that can be used to prosecute the attacker
. If a rape survivors show up at the wrong emergency room
, the survivors could be told to drive to another hospital! This common sense bill requires that every hospital establish procedures to treat survivors of sexual assault and was passed unanimously by both Maryland houses.
We still have a long way to go, but every step and every piece of legislation to curb sexual assault and give justice to survivors is a step to making the world a safer place for us all.
Thank you for joining us in recognizing National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new report out on teen pregnancy, and called out how ineffective "abstinence-only" programs really are:
"Only four out of 10 [teenagers] said they had been given information both on how to say no to sex and about birth control. And 83 percent of the boys and girls who had sex said they had not received any sex education before their first time."
Woah. That's just scary. No wonder the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation.
This is what the anti-choice movement is all about: keeping people from getting the facts and from making the health-care decisions that are right for them. That means a lot of teens aren't learning what they need to know to stay healthy.
Take a look at four ways the anti-choice movement's agenda is playing out across the country:
- "Abstinence-only" programs: Not only has the anti-choice movement made it their agenda to withhold information from young people across the country, "abstinence-only" programs actually promote misinformation and use shaming tactics to block teens from accessing birth control or their full range of reproductive options. Only 28 states require sex education that teaches about birth control.
In one Mississippi classroom, students of an "abstinence-only" program were made to pass around an unwrapped piece of chocolate to show that sexual activity is dirty and shameful. A school district in Texas compared sexually active teens to "chewed up gum" that should be thrown away. Another program taught students that if they have sex they're like a "rose without petals." Education is supposed to encourage and inspire students, not shame them and make them feel worthless. The problem is these programs just don't work. Teens will still have sex, but they have no idea of the risks or consequences.
- Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs): The anti-choice movement's agenda of denying information and using shame isn't only happening in schools. Our opponents have created "crisis pregnancy centers" to stop women from choosing abortion. These fake clinics are meant to look like abortion providers to lure women facing an unintended pregnancy through their doors, but then they tell women lies like "abortion causes breast cancer," "Condoms are porous," and "abortions will ruin your chance of having children in the future."
- Attacks on contraceptive coverage: For the anti-choice movement, withholding information isn't extreme enough. They are also working to let bosses who oppose birth control refuse to cover it for their employees and two of their cases have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. One in three women struggles to afford birth control, so if these bosses win it's going to mean that a lot of women could lose access altogether.
- Laws that close abortion clinics: Anti-choice politicians in states like Texas close reproductive-health clinics, including ones that provide abortion. We're seeing this happen in Ohio where new restrictions are forcing clinics out of business because they cannot comply quickly enough with unnecessary transfer agreements with local hospitals. These Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have one goal: shut down clinics where women can get safe and legal abortion care. And, sadly, in states that are dominated by anti-choice politicians, these laws are doing just that.
Justin Cohen is a staff member of the Communications department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.
As snow began to fall earlier today, we joined more than 40 women's health groups and progressive allies, along with hundreds of activists for our "Not My Boss's Business" rally outside the Supreme Court.
The court began to hear oral arguments for two cases brought by for-profit companies who want to give bosses the right to deny their employees birth control coverage just because they oppose it. The Affordable Care Act's birth-control coverage benefit is one of the biggest reproductive-health wins in a generation, but that makes it a target for anti-choice forces.
The frigid weather wasn't going to stop us from having our message heard - personal health decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor. It is not any boss's business!
Now it's up to the Supreme Court to rule in favor of women's reproductive health-care access. Make sure to you follow our hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness
to stay up to speed with our campaign!
Justin Cohen is a staff member of the Communications department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Remember what it was like when insurance companies behaved like being a woman was a pre-existing condition? Fortunately those days are over!
Today is the four-year anniversary of when pro-choice President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law.
This health care law is one of the biggest advancements for women's reproductive health in a generation. Thanks to the ACA, more than 30 million Americans
will have access to affordable family-planning services, better access to contraception, and maternity care.
Help us celebrate this milestone and get the word out about all the ways our lives have improved because of the ACA. Share our graphic on Facebook
and show your support for this incredible piece of legislation that is benefiting women across the country.
Under the ACA, 27 million women
now can access no-cost birth control using their insurance coverage. Who would argue with that, right? I'll tell you who: certain narrow-minded bosses who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of health care for employees - they'll stop at nothing to restrict women's access to contraceptive coverage.
In fact, we're heading to the Supreme Court on Tuesday to defend the birth-control policy against these attacks.
Bosses at Hobby Lobby and Conestoga believe it should be up to them whether to provide their employees birth control coverage. If these bosses win, they could possibly be empowered to deny any kind of health-care coverage for any reason!
Employees should not be held at the mercy of their bosses. So we're teaming up with more than 40 women's health groups and progressive allies, and 40 religious groups to say that birth control is not my boss's business. If you can, join us in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to show that a decision in favor of these bosses would be completely out of touch with most Americans. We will be meeting in front of the Supreme Court at 8:30 a.m. You can RSVP today!
Follow our hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness
to stay up to speed if you can't join us in person.
We know that when women have control over their own health care, they're empowered to make essential decisions about their families and their futures. That's why we're going to continue to fight every day for women's access to comprehensive reproductive-health care.
Happy birthday, ACA!
It's March, which means it's Women's History Month!
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis became a household name overnight when she took an epic stand against extreme anti-choice politicians in her state. There are so many pro-choice champions that few are ever recognized for their hard work and dedication to protecting women's reproductive freedom. That's why this year, we're recognizing some amazing heroines of the pro-choice movement that stood up to anti-choice attacks in their states, and work tirelessly to protect and expand women's access to reproductive-health care, birth control, and abortion services.
In New Mexico, we recognize Dolores Huerta, a worker's and women's right activist who was a key figure in battling the first city-wide abortion ban proposed in Albuquerque. In an ad produced by NARAL Pro-Choice America, Advocates for Youth, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Young Women United, Dolores said:
"I am Dolores Huerta, New Mexican, and Catholic mother of eleven. Women are the only ones who should make decisions about their bodies. We cannot allow others to interfere in our lives. Decisions about abortion belong with a woman, her family, and her doctor. I have fought for working people all of my life. Join me and defend the rights, dignity and the respect of all women and families."
Huerta has been fighting for civil rights for more than six decades. She recently received our Champion of Choice Award. Check out this video of her acceptance speech:
In Massachusetts, we recognize Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office defended the state's pro-choice buffer zone law at the Supreme Court, which NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts supported strongly. This law protects patients and medical professionals from being harassed and intimidated by anti-choice protestors who mob reproductive-health clinics.
Attorney General Coakley released a statement after the buffer zone oral arguments and said:
"I am proud that Massachusetts passed the buffer zone law to help people access reproductive health care free from harassment... I thought the justices asked insightful questions about the constitutional balance that this law must, and we believe does, strike. I am hopeful that they will conclude that the buffer zone statute appropriately protects speech, health care access, and public safety, and should remain law."
In Oklahoma, we're like to recognize Rep. Constance Johnson who led the charge against recent legislative attacks in her state.
When politicians in the Oklahoma state legislature pushed for extreme anti-choice "personhood" legislation that would ban abortion care with no exception for survivors of rape or incest and could also ban in-vitro fertilization, Sen. Johnson fought back.
Sen. Johnson introduced her own tongue-in-cheek bill to ban "non-procreative ejaculation" and expose the hypocrisy of anti-choice politicians who would endanger women's health:
"As a woman and a 31-year veteran of the legislative process in Oklahoma, I am increasingly offended by state law trends that solely focus on the female's role in the reproductive process. With Oklahoma's new, never-before-experienced Republican majority, we are seeing enactment of more and more measures that adversely affect women and their rights to access safe medical procedures when making reproductive-health care decisions."
In New Hampshire, we recognize former NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire board member and co-chair of the New Hampshire Reproductive Rights legislative caucus, state Rep. Candace White Bouchard.
Year after year, Rep. Bouchard stands up to legislative attacks on choice and received NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire's Champion of Choice award in 2012. Rep. Bouchard co-sponsored the New Hampshire buffer zone bill and was lauded by her pro-choice peers when she bravely refused to allow an anti-choice colleague to speak against abortion to the full House on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Over in Michigan, we must recognize Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer who took a stand and bravely shared her own personal story of sexual assault to fight the anti-choice "rape insurance" bill in Michigan. She spoke out against her extreme anti-choice colleagues, saying:
"As a legislator, a lawyer, a woman and the mother of two girls, I think the fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive, let alone the way it has been orchestrated and now shoved through the legislature."Those of you on the other side of the aisle are all too happy to be puppets in this offensive game impacting women's lives... This is by far one of the most misogynistic proposals I've ever seen in the Michigan legislature."
You can watch state Sen. Whitmer's testimony below:
In California, we recognize state Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who authored a law in 2013 that expands access to safe abortion care in the Golden State.
This new law, which NARAL Pro-Choice California organized around to help pass, will increase the number of medical professionals, including midwives and nurses, who can provide early abortion care.
We honored Asm. Atkins in our 23rd edition of Who Decides? The Status of Reproductive Choice in the States for her amazing work protecting and expanding women's reproductive rights in California.
We know that the brave work of these pro-choice heroines would have been possible without contributions from pioneers and advocates of women's reproductive rights. That's why we'd like to recognize former Missouri state Sen. Harriet Woods for being a trailblazer in politics. Sen. Woods' political career spanned more than three decades. She served in the Missouri legislature with just a handful of women in the 1980s and went on to become the first, and so far the only, female Lieutenant Governor of Missouri.
Sen. Woods' loss in a tight race for U.S. Senate against incumbent John Danforth led to the creation of the pro-choice democratic non-profit EMILY's List. From 1991-1995, Sen. Woods served as the president of the Women's Political Caucus and continued her work fighting for women alongside NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri until she passed away in 2007.
As we recognize pro-choice heroines of the past we also look to the future and to up-and-coming pro-choice leaders who are just getting started on their paths to protecting women's freedom and privacy. New pro-choice supporters and activists pop up every day across the country. They're the ones who will lead the charge and make sure women continue to have access to comprehensive reproductive-health care and abortion access.
That's why we're also we recognizing NARAL Pro-Choice California PrivacyPAC-endorsed California state senate candidate Sandra Fluke.
Fluke garnered national attention when she was denied the right to testify at the now-infamous all-male panel on birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Fluke has since dedicated her career to social justice and public advocacy. She recently attended NARAL Pro-Choice America's San Francisco Power of Choice Luncheon as a special guest and panelist.
We're so thankful to have pro-choice champions defending women's reproductive freedom in every state. These elected officials, along with countless others, work every day to make sure women have safe, legal, access to all of their reproductive options.
In honor of Women's History Month, we recognize and thank these elected officials for their service and for not backing down to anti-choice legislative attacks across the country.
Today is National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day!
Any woman who experiences an unintended pregnancy and chooses abortion deserves the same care and compassion as any other medical patient. That's why the role of abortion providers is essential to women's reproductive-health care.
Abortion providers across the country risk their lives to ensure women can access abortion care with compassion. Not only do they put their safety on the line, some also travel thousands of miles to make sure they can provide care in areas where there is no abortion provider on staff. That's why we work every day to protect women's reproductive freedom and abortion providers across the country.
We hear every day from women who are grateful for their provider's compassionate care and assistance when choosing the best reproductive-health option:
I never thought I would have an abortion. Last summer I made the heart-wrenching decision to terminate a very much wanted pregnancy. At our 12 week scan we discovered that our baby boy had an 11 mm cystic hygroma and further genetic tests confirmed that he had trisomy 18. Trisomy 18 is not compatible with life. Our baby had a less than 5% chance of even making it to term and if he did he would have died shortly after birth. We couldn't bear the emotional distress of knowing that each day could have been the day our baby would die in the womb and if we made it to birth it would only be to bury him shortly after. I still cry every day for our baby we lost but I know we made the right decision for us and I'm so thankful that we had the option to make that decision. I am also so thankful for the compassionate doctors and genetic counselors we met along the way.
KC, 30, Massachusetts:
At 35 weeks in a very wanted pregnancy, my baby was diagnosed with serious brain malformations. Her prognosis was grim. It was not known how long she would live, but it was certain that she would suffer for all of her brief life. My husband and I were devastated.
It was so late in my pregnancy that there was only one clinic in the entire country that could legally take us. We knew what our choice was and didn't need more time to think about it. We knew this was right. We scrambled for the money and hopped a plane the next business day to take us to our procedure. Our care was incredible. Everyone was so compassionate and very serious about keeping me safe. I miss my baby terribly, but I know that I did for her what I would want my parents to do for me. We saved her, and there is great peace in that.
I am so thankful to our clinic and caregivers for helping me and my baby, but at the same time I am angry that, had we found out only one day later, all doors would have been closed. I'm hurt that we had to leave our home and support network to get our care. I'm enraged that this option rested on fast access to $30,000 for trip and care. It is incredibly unjust that a family without contacts to such resources would have no choice at all. I am deeply saddened that being open about my loss might risk harassment or even violence against my family and clinic. I despair that something so close and personal and poignant be subjected to a raging war over women's rights. I am scared that other loving families in my place will run out of safe and humane options that they can live with.
Eve, 37, Alaska:
We were using birth control and it failed. I found out I was pregnant after I missed my period (at five weeks). I live in one of the larger cities in Alaska, but because the clinic does not have an abortion provider, they fly one in at regular intervals. I waited four weeks for a provider. The clinic was wonderful, caring and understanding (to the point of letting me make a backup appointment just in case the doctor was weathered out and could not fly in). I am lucky because I do not live off the road system and have a supportive family. I can only imagine what the wait might be like for someone with little support out in a village somewhere off the road system, especially with all the scary self-help advice out there on the internet. I am grateful for action groups working to keep access to abortion open and the procedure itself safe and legal. Finally, I cannot thank the clinic and the providers enough for their time and caring when I needed it.
Halina, 21, North Dakota:
While switching from different birth controls I became pregnant. I was not mentally or physically ready for a child. I chose to have an abortion. My husband and I are very grateful we had a choice in this decision. The clinic we went to was the only one available in North Dakota, they were very nice, very helpful, they made sure I was fully educated with my choice and I am very thankful for that. Banning abortion gives NO choice for women and to me, that's just wrong.
Erica, 32, Texas:
I thought I was doing everything right....
While I was certain that I was using the pill correctly, I did manage to get pregnant.
I called him and we decided that we were far too young and not financially able to have a child together. I was working two jobs and I was a full time student. I was paying my way and helping pay bills for my parents.
In the end, the abortion was performed with a lot of guidance from the clinic. They made sure I was absolutely informed of my choices and I made the right one for myself and my body. Looking back, I never regret my decision for one second - other than getting pregnant in the first place. Now, I'm successful and married to a wonderful man and we are trying to have our first child. The panic I felt when I found out I was pregnant really made me understand the women who retreated to back alley abortions - I would have done ANYTHING to have my abortion and I am so thankful that I didn't have to make that kind of a decision.
Evie, 30, Texas :
My boyfriend knew before I did, and it was just a side comment from him about how beautiful I looked that made me even think to buy a pregnancy test. When I told him, he was his usual supportive and gentle self, and apologized. Then promised to support me however I wanted to proceed.
He did all the research, found me the best abortion clinic in the state...The doctors were a husband and wife team, a loving pair of caregivers who were so obviously in this practice for all of the kindest reasons.
The doctor who performed my exam apologized, seemingly humiliated, before using the vaginal ultrasound probe to show me the pea-sized [pregnancy].
About 48 hours later, my seemingly constant "morning" sickness was over and I was no longer pregnant. It was painless. I felt supported. I had an excellent team of medical professionals to support me and answer my questions.
Even though abortion care is a critical part of reproductive-health services and lets women's control their destinies - one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime - anti-choice forces work hard every day to close down clinics and force abortion providers out of business.
Anti-choice groups do whatever it takes, from passing laws like the one in Texas to close clinics, to using harassment, intimidation and even violence. As recently as last week, an anti-choice activist vandalized and forced a reproductive-health clinic in Montana to close in order to intimidate patients and providers. In 2009, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his church by an anti-choice extremist.
We're honored to recognize some of our current and former NARAL Pro-Choice America board members who are also abortion providers, Dr. Sara Imershein, who provides care to women on the East Coast, and Dr. Susan Wicklund, a retired provider and author of "This Common Secret" about her experience as a provider in an extremely conservative part of the country.
We thank abortion providers across the country who risk their lives and safety to ensure that women have access to essential reproductive-health services and abortion care.
Happy National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
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