Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Safe Abortion Project: holy crap is this important

In summer of 2009, our abortioneering colleague Steph Herold created the website I Am Dr. Tiller, in part so that people out in the world who think they don't know any abortioneers could see us and hear us, know that we exist, and recognize us as decent human beings, not murder targets.

(Most people got it. Stupidly, a few people didn't -- like Bill O'Reilly, who called the profiled providers "cowards" and asked why, if they were not ashamed of what they did, were they hiding their faces. [You, dear reader, have good contextual comprehension skills and can probably explain the answer to his question by simply pointing at a couple news headlines and some text on the website itself.])

I've had so many conversations -- with some co-bloggers, with coworkers, with a classmate who does photovoice research -- about how great it would be to have more video out there of abortioneers ourselves, what it's really like in the clinic, and other real-life abortionland tales, because our realities are usually misrepresented by people who make shit up, or by insanely awful horrors like Kermit Gosnell's story. Oh, IF ONLY we lived in a magical world where those ideas didn't give our coworkers and bosses intense misgivings, antis weren't unhinged, etc. In the end, we bloggers shelved the idea of video-blogging indefinitely, my classmate's proposal got rejected by the clinic she approached based on security concerns, that documentary about clinic escorts never got finished and the awesome little animated trailer "Silenced" was all we could see of it...and on and on. But we still really want the world to know what abortion care is really like, all the hard work and compassionate commitment and clinically excellent care we're proud to say we see in our workplaces every day. And we want to engage the world in helping us make this kind of care a reality for all women everywhere.

So imagine how excited I am about this: The Safe Abortion Project, dedicated to showcasing safe abortion care and starting off with a that video Steph filmed with the staff at the Philadelphia Women's Clinic.

I hope to see this new project grow and grow. Go watch the video, then (if you're an abortioneer) contact her with a story of your own for the website.

As much as I try not to straight-up copy-and-paste, the stated principles of the Safe Abortion Project are perfect as-is:

1. Historically, women will do whatever it takes to end a pregnancy they feel they cannot carry to term, including risk their lives.
2. If full insurance coverage for abortion were available, poor women and girls would not have to settle for the least expensive medical care.
3. Until abortion services in the United States are fully accessible to poor women, women will be vulnerable to those who seek to exploit their poverty with unsafe practices.
4. In a nation where more than 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in her life, the culture of silent shame that surrounds the decision to end a pregnancy allows those who would provide poor quality and sometimes dangerous care to thrive.
5. Until abortion services are affordable and accessible to all women who need care, women will continue to be vulnerable to exploitation and harm by those who offer substandard, dangerous care.
6. Strict laws limiting women and girls’ safe access to abortion care does nothing to protect women.

These convictions are shared by me and every abortioneer I know, and we voice them over and over again in this blog and in our conversations with others, so I hope you readers feel prepared in turn to share them far and wide.

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