Letter to the Editor written by Staci Fox, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast
I’ve had a lengthy career advocating for reproductive health and rights. I started out as a health educator before working my way up through the ranks to becoming the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. Needless to say, I’m not new to this fight, but this is certainly a critical moment for abortion rights.
Planned Parenthood is one of the many providers on the frontlines pushing for expansive reproductive health services. The communities we support are often in medically-underserved areas and our patients depend on us for affordable, expert nonjudgmental care.
Since Roe v. Wade, abortion in the U.S. has been under fierce attack. Providers around the country have had to navigate unconstitutional bans and restrictions, harassment from anti-abortion extremists, not to mention discrimination (even within their own professions) from people who do not understand the importance of this work.
Although 70% of Georgians believe that Roe v Wade should remain the law of the land, anti-abortion politicians in the U.S. have continued chipping away at our reproductive freedoms and access for decades. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in a case that could completely dismantle the protections set forth by Roe v Wade. Yet even as abortion access hangs by a thread, only 36% of the population believes that Roe could actually be abolished.
This year was the 49th anniversary of Roe, but this could also be the last time we celebrate this important milestone in our nation’s history. While we do not know how the courts will rule, what I do know is that abortion providers deserve to be honored now, and always.
Abortion providers — from physicians, nurses, office staff, and volunteer escorts — have the courage and compassion to provide care despite the shame and stigma they encounter almost daily. They are the unsung heroes of this movement for reproductive equity. They do this work, often without enough resources or visibility. Yet somehow, THEY persist.
When I was a freshman in college, I experienced an unwanted pregnancy. During what was one of the most vulnerable moments in my life, I relied on the care of an abortion provider. I was grateful to have this support when I needed it, and I am not alone.
An estimated 1 in 4 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The people who walk into our health centers for abortion services come to us as an act of basic health care, not politics. That’s what we’re collectively fighting for — basic rights and freedoms, including the right to decide if and when to become a parent, for all people no matter who they are, how much money they earn, or where they live.
As we commemorate National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day on March 10, don’t forget to express your gratitude to these heroes for the lifesaving health care they provide. Because whether Roe falls or not, abortion providers deserve to celebrated.
In this together,
President & CEO
Planned Parenthood Southeast