Last weekend, reading the New York Times magazine, I was heartened to read The New Abortion Providers about efforts in the United States—mainly led by medical professionals—to make abortion services more available in mainstream medical settings like hospitals and doctor’s offices. Moving abortion from isolated clinics into multi-use settings not only makes it more difficult for extremists to attack women seeking such services, but it also helps normalize the procedure. Clinics have served a great purpose, and will surely continue to do so, but more options will only increase access—definitely a win for women.
A colleague of mine was obviously just as struck by the article, as she emailed it to IWHC staff this week. Opening the link, I wasn’t surprised to see that the article had inspired well over 400 responses—but I was happy to see that nearly all of them were from women writing with gratitude about having had access abortion services when they needed them, and thanking the courageous doctors who are continuing to improve access to all women’s health services.
One woman wrote, of her own abortion:
“As I was sitting in the waiting room with a dozen or so young women I suggested we all get down on the floor and thank God that we were in a safe, clean, medical situation, unlike our mothers and their mothers would have been, and unlike millions of other women in the world. Every one of us got down on the floor and thanked God, and not a few of us cried.
I have never regretted my decision. Sure, I wish the circumstances had been different, but given the reality of the circumstances I would make the same choice every time . . . Thank you to all birth control providers. Thank you from me and all the other girls in that waiting room so long ago.”
Another woman said:
“In the 60’s, my best friend and I both nearly died from illegal abortions. These brave doctors are preventing so much tragedy. It is a permanent truth that there will always be women who need abortions. The issue is whether they survive them and retain the ability to have children later. I thank them on behalf of all the millions and millions of women who have died.”
And this person shared:
“Although I oppose abortion, I absolutely support an individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself, and on society’s obligation to make it available. I dislike the Pro-life radicals who suppose themselves to speak on behalf of God. God Bless these doctors for acting on their well informed conscienes [sic] and not cowering from this unpleasant reality.”
The overwhelming number of reader sentiments like these cement that abortion is not a fringe service, worthy of stigma or moral debate—it is a life-saving service that women of all walks of life and from diverse backgrounds need and deserve. The article is great, but the comments are the must-read here. Go check them out. The solidarity you’ll find is inspiring.
Worldwide, a woman dies every 8 minutes because of unsafe abortion, adding up to 70,000 deaths every year. Evidence from countries including the United States, Romania, and South Africa demonstrates that abortion-related deaths and injuries can be virtually eliminated with appropriate laws, policies, and services—services like the ones increasingly being provided by doctors in the United States. For more information read our issue brief Access to Abortion is A Human Right, available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.