Care2 members and many Americans were horrified at the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he entered church a few months ago. After the initial shock, we’re still left with a status quo that is frankly unacceptable: a culture of fear propagated by extreme anti-abortion activists who adopt threats and actual violence.
And while all that’s happening, we’re having a ridiculous discussion in the Congress around abortion and health care reform where anti-abortion members are trying to ban ANY health care provider from covering abortion services (it’s unlikely that will actually come to pass, but it is still being debated). This is medical care, and it’s shameful that women’s health care is this kind of political football.
We invited the Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup to guest blog for us about what it looks like for service providers out there. It’s a story worth hearing . . .
Abortion Providers are Human Rights Defenders
by Nancy Northup, President, Center for Reproductive Rights
I want to tell you the story of Dr. Jane Smith* (pseudonym). She provided abortion services and was “hunted down by protestors” at her home in rural New Jersey. Her house was broken into. Dead animals were placed at her home. She was attacked on the internet. She was forced to stop practicing entirely.
What people don’t realize is that abortion providers are operating under siege, legal and physical, every single day. But it’s time their stories were brought out of the dark.
The Center just released the report, “Defending Human Rights: Abortion Providers Facing Threats, Restrictions, and Harassment,” to document the heroic stories of these individuals and call on the government to stop enacting discriminatory laws against abortion providers that have no medical justification.
It took the murder of Dr. George Tiller to focus the media for a moment, but abortion providers face unacceptable obstacles every day in their effort to defend women’s reproductive rights. This constant assault doesn’t just endanger and marginalize abortion providers; it denies the rights of the one in three American women who will seek an abortion in their lifetimes.
The fact is that governments are often part of the problem. It’s up to us to stand up and speak out by calling on our state legislators to enforce and strengthen existing laws protecting abortion providers.
In America in 2009, why should doctors providing women basic medical care fear for their lives? It just doesn’t make sense.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we all stop self-censoring about our pro-choice beliefs and speak up. This is the most profound thing to do to effect change for something you care about. Talk to your friends, your family, your coworkers, your community. Find out what the laws are in your state. And tell your state legislators to protect abortion providers and to oppose any discriminatory legal restrictions that prevent them from doing their critical work.