“This bill is yet another attack on access to safe, legal abortion care. This dangerous bill is a blatant attempt to intimidate and shutter safe and law-abiding abortion providers.
“House Bill 19 attempts to intimidate physicians who perform legal abortions, a procedure with an incredibly high safety record, by increasing their exposure to frivolous lawsuits. It would significantly increase the risk physicians face in providing safe and legal abortion care.
“The real motivation behind this flawed bill is political, not because it is what’s best for women. The fact is, this bill would give organizations whose sole mission is to stop abortion providers one more vehicle to go after doctors and tie up the court system, without the constraints of the established medical malpractice legal system in Florida.
Note: This video footage [https://youtu.be/HZbesz5_bC4] from the recent Women’s March in Tallahassee is available to be used by news outlets as an illustration of the opposition to these attacks on women’s access to reproductive health care.
Testimony and bio of Dr. Rachel Russell
My name is Dr. Rachel Russell. I am a Florida licensed psychologist who has worked in college counseling centers for more than 10 years. I am here today in opposition of HB 19.
This bill is predicated on the myth that having an abortion will result in pathological regret or “emotional distress.” My clinical experience does not support this, and more importantly, the research does not support this. An extensive study conducted by the American Psychological Association taskforce on Mental Health and Abortion concluded that “among women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.” Further the study found “women in the US who had a legal first trimester abortion show no greater prevalence of mental health problems than women in the general population.”
As a licensed psychologist, I work with women daily who have been victims of sexual assault, some facing the added trauma of an unwanted pregnancy. I also work with young women and inexperienced couples who are faced with the uncertainty of an unwanted pregnancy. They deserve to know all of their options without manufactured stigma.
This bill suggests that women will be irreparably emotionally distressed and that is simply untrue. This further promotes the myth that abortion is harmful to women’s mental health. In my ten years of practice I have never worked with a woman who regretted or felt pathologically distressed by having an abortion.
Let’s keep abortion safe and legal and not mislead the public, further stigmatize vulnerable women, and alienate our esteemed physicians.
Please vote no on HB 19.
Rachel Russell, Psy.D.
Staff Psychologist, Florida Tech Counseling and Psychological Services
Dr. Rachel E. Russell graduated from the University of Mississippi with her B.A. in Psychology. She earned her Master’s Degree and Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Tech. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Southern Mississippi Psychology Internship Consortium, including rotations at the University of Southern Mississippi Counseling Center, Pine Grove Professional Enhancement Program, Pine Belt Services for Children and Families, and Gentle Path Treatment Center for Sexual Addiction.
Shortly after earning her Doctoral Degree, Dr. Russell moved to England and worked for two years as a Counsellor at the University of Reading Counselling Center conducting therapy and psychoeducational assessments. She also taught upper level undergraduate psychology courses at Richmond American International University of London. Dr. Russell was accredited by the British Association for Counselors and Psychotherapists. She then relocated to the United Arab Emirates and worked as a School Counselor at the British International School of Abu Dhabi for approximately two years.
Dr. Russell is a Florida licensed psychologist and she has been working at Florida Tech Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for nearly five years. She engages in individual, couples, and group therapy and she supervises doctoral level practicum students. She is the Assessment Coordinator and supervises all psychoeducational assessments completed at CAPS. She also conducts triage services at the center. Her practice is largely informed by Cognitive Behavioral Theory with some influences from positive psychology, mindfulness, and family systems. She taught the graduate level course Assessment of Intelligence at Florida Tech as well. Dr. Russell’s interests lie in working with a variety of issues related to depression, anxiety, cultural adjustment, women’s issues, relationship problems, and substance abuse, as well as psychological assessment and training.