On June 27, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, ruled in favor of abortion rights, striking down both provisions of the Texas law that placed unnecessary restrictions on abortion care access. Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Willie Parker issued the following statement:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is an historic confirmation of a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health, her family, and her future. Politicians can no longer use ideologically driven laws with no medical basis to threaten women’s health by restricting access to safe, legal abortion care.
“Our physicians are profoundly committed to women’s health and well-being, and know better than anyone the true consequences of unduly restrictive abortion regulations: women across the country, and especially in the South where I have seen it firsthand, are losing the ability to make private health care decisions because states have passed hundreds of laws preventing safe and legal abortion access. This ruling affirms that a woman’s right to dignified and compassionate abortion care should not depend on where she lives or on the interference of politicians. Every woman should be free to make medical decisions based on her doctor’s advice and what is right for herself and her family.
“The battle to protect abortion access is not over. We will continue to fight to ensure that our physicians can fulfill their deep, conscientious commitment to providing all women who need it – in Texas and across the country – with dignified, compassionate, and appropriate reproductive health care.”
Dear 2016 Presidential Candidate,
As you consider your future policies on reproductive health care during your candidacy for President of the United States, we at Physicians for Reproductive Health ask that you take into account the harmful impacts of the increasingly politicized rhetoric around abortion access on women, families, and the doctors who care for them. As a doctor-led national advocacy organization that uses evidence-based medicine to promote sound reproductive health policies, we know firsthand the medical and social harms inflicted on our patients by ideological policies that prevent access to safe and comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion.
We fervently ask that you oppose all policies that let politics harm the health, wellbeing, and dignity of our patients and that interfere with the solemn doctor-patient relationship we have with them.
Our physician members want to share the following information with your campaign:
- Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and as physicians our patients’ safety is our highest priority. Today abortion has an enviable record in medicine, with a 99% safety rate and a less than 1% complication rate. We welcome evidence-based policies that continue to improve on this safety, but not those that harm it in the false name of safety.
- As abortion providers, we understand what’s at risk if women do not have access to safe and legal abortion care services. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women experienced gruesome injuries, emotional trauma, and death because of the lack of access to safe and legal abortion care. We know that our ability to provide skilled, compassionate, and comprehensive care is crucial to women being able to have full reproductive autonomy and freedom.
- As abortion providers, we persevere even in the face of adversity and threats of violence to ourselves, our facilities, and our families. In 2015, providers received 94 death threats last year, up from a single threat the year before; clinics were picketed or blockaded more than 21,700 times, a nearly four-fold increase since 2014; and more than 25,000 incidents of hate speech occurred in just a six week period, according to a recent report. Despite the harassment, intimidation, and death threats, dedicated abortion providers regularly put themselves in harm’s way because we know what is at stake for our patients.
- As physicians who provide abortion, we respect the need for regulation in medicine and scrupulously comply with our regulatory obligations. As members of the health care community, abortion providers understand the role of regulations, adhering to the highest medical professional standards of care and following health regulations to protect our patients’ health. We support efforts that make reproductive health care safer, while recognizing that the more than 230 state-level restrictions to reproductive care adopted in the past four years simply don’t accomplish that goal.
- Several states wrongly require health care providers to share misleading or inaccurate information about abortion. For example, the state of Kansas requires that patients be told breast cancer is a risk of abortion, a claim that has been debunked by numerous authorities including the National Cancer Institute. Such requirements harm the doctor-patient relationship and infringe on the professionalism of the medical community.
Our physician members strongly believe that all patients deserve dignified, compassionate, and appropriate medical care. Every patient faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications and must be able to make medical decisions based on her doctor’s advice and what is right for herself and her family – without interference from politicians.
We offer your campaign the opportunity to meet with our physicians and learn first-hand about our experiences caring for patients amid the obstacles they face to accessing the crucial medical care they need.
Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH
Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc
Board Chair Elect