On Wednesday, August 3rd, Allentown City Council took bold action by introducing a buffer zone ordinance that protects abortion patients and providers as they enter health centers amid a national abortion access crisis.
The overturning of Roe v Wade has placed the future of abortion access back into the hands of the states. Already, we are seeing dangerous legislation, including an anti-abortion constitutional amendment, being introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature, and in state legislatures across the country.
As supporters of Planned Parenthood and reproductive freedom, we applaud Allentown City Council for standing strongly with patients and communities by taking proactive measures to protect access to essential abortion care.
Patients seeking care at providers like Planned Parenthood are far too often faced with harassment from anti-abortion protesters, who use deceit and intimidation to coerce patients into deciding a certain way.
Recent comments surrounding the buffer zone ordinance expressed concern that when someone comes to a health care clinic that provides abortion, they are provided less support, information, or access to resources than when they visit any other health care provider. But health centers that provide abortion care like Planned Parenthood are just like any doctor’s office; they are a wealth of resources and medically accurate information about all of a patient’s options.
Abortion care providers are experts in gynecology and reproductive health. They are board certified OBGYNs assisted by nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants with all the education, training, and licensing required for such a role.
Planned Parenthood health centers and independent providers of abortion care are thoroughly connected with the network of community organizations that provide additional services and resources to people living with low incomes or facing other hardships and are prepared to connect their patients with any option the patient chooses.
Every patient that comes to Planned Parenthood for abortion care receives the time, care, and attention they deserve. We talk with every patient and provide unbiased information on all their pregnancy options, including how to have a healthy pregnancy, starting prenatal care, referrals to adoption agencies, information about abortion, and resources for getting support for pregnancy decisions.
The fact is, more than 95% of women who have had an abortion report that it was the right decision for them – and that feelings of relief outweigh any negative emotion they might have, even years later1.
Everyone should have accurate information about all of their pregnancy options. That information should support them, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being. It should not be provided with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging their decision.
The bottom line is that we need to trust women, trans men, and non-binary people; trust them to know their own unique circumstances and needs. It’s the job of the providers at these health centers to provide unbiased information, lay out all of someone’s pregnancy options, and provide the health care they need or refer them to the right place.
It’s the responsibility of the city council to ensure that patients can get that care without facing unnecessary harassment and coercion from unlicensed, biased “counselors” on the sidewalk.
Everyone deserves the right to make their own personal health care decisions, free from policing, judgment, and intimidation. We stand with Planned Parenthood and Allentown City Council as they continue to take courageous action to protect the safety of patients accessing abortion care.