[Sarasota, FL] Below is an editorial by our CEO and President, Barbara Zdravecky.
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in the Roe v. Wade case to protect abortion rights. Since that time, anti-women's health politicians in Florida and across the country have waged a war trying to restrict women's access to this safe and legal medical procedure. The political attacks waged on women's health have gotten out of hand. Decisions made by elected officials are effectively tying the hands of doctors and leaving our patients with more limited options.
Politicians are not medical experts, but they have continuously written laws under the guise of protecting women's health. The truth is they do the opposite. These laws hurt women, and their ultimate goal is to make safe, legal abortion hard or even impossible to access.
In Florida, recently filed House Bill 147 would require any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. A requirement for admitting privileges is opposed by leading medical experts, including the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because they are medically unnecessary and endanger women's health.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has explicitly stated that admitting privileges are not necessary to provide safe abortion care and that abortion clinics can more than adequately protect patient safety by simply having arrangements in place for transferring patients who require emergency treatment.
Requiring abortion providers to obtain privileges at a local hospital could have the effect of restricting or delaying women's access to abortion providers, because clinics could be forced to close or to stop providing abortion services. In addition, by potentially shutting down health centers that provide a range of services to women in addition to abortion, these restrictions could make it harder for women to get affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Despite all of this, lawmakers have continued to push through legislation like House Bill 147 in states across the country. Unfortunately for Florida, it could be just the beginning.
Fighting the Stigma
In my over 20 years as president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, I've seen the compassionate, quality care our doctors give to our patients. And I've met women from all sorts of backgrounds who've come to us to get an abortion -- for a variety of reasons.
Those women are just like me. My birth control failed, and I got pregnant. I knew that an abortion was the right decision for me and my partner, and it wasn't a difficult decision for me to make. With the support of my partner, I went to a health center near where I lived, and the doctors and health professionals made sure it was a comfortable experience. I felt safe and protected, and I knew I was in good hands.
People ask why I'm willing to share this story now. Women often fear they will be judged and shamed when they share that they've had an abortion. And that's not how it should be.
No woman should be forced to justify why she had an abortion. The decision about whether to have a child, end a pregnancy or choose adoption is hers alone with support from her medical provider, her family and her faith. But speaking publicly can help end the misinformation and the stigma surrounding abortion.
That's why I'm sharing my story today. As a leader in Planned Parenthood, and as a nurse and a mother, I think it's important for women to know they're not alone.
My story is common. Studies show that one third of women in the U.S. have had an abortion. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Data, including that from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Women in the U.S. experience major complications from abortion less than 1 percent of the time, and, in those rare cases when complications do occur, they are similar to those that may occur from miscarriage, which ob-gyns and other health care professionals treat every day.
So as lawmakers in Tallahassee are gearing up for another legislative session, it's critical that they hear from both women's health care providers and women themselves. These are people who know that legal abortion is safe -- and it will only stay that way if it remains legal and accessible.
That's why I invite you to join me in sharing your story.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, began operations in 1966 and provides vital sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education to women, men and teens in Sarasota, Manatee, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Ft. Myers, Lakeland and Winter Haven. The mission of Planned Parenthood is to ensure the right of all individuals to manage their sexual and reproductive health by providing medical services, education and advocacy. Go to www.myplannedparenthood.org for information or call (941) 365.3913.
Kellie Dupree, 941-556-1248, [email protected]
January 22, 2015
March 25, 2015