Safety First for Patients and Providers

Abortion is healthcare.  And no patient, family member, supportive friend, physician, nurse, or other staff member should be worried about being terrorized while accessing or providing healthcare services.  I never worried about this when I worked in a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Perhaps I was a bit naive.  My only goal walking into clinic once a week was: provide the best possible healthcare.  I was a pharmacy resident at the time, so of course I wanted to learn and practice too.  At no point did I look
behind my back or worry about my personal safety.

12307487_10153512358666704_2297390850230863566_oAs most Americans spent their Thanksgiving weekends reflecting on all that they’re thankful for, one community was terrorized by a single man and his backwards motives.  The recent tragedy in Colorado Springs took the lives of three people, each of whom had two children at home.  When I heard the news, it felt like a scene from the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk  was coming to life.  The movie was made nearly 20 years ago in 1996 and I highly recommend it for the powerful performances by Cher, Demi Moore, and other famous actresses.

Living in California, I’m proud of our progressive policies and commitment to providing evidence-based healthcare to serve our communities.  I think that has had a lot to do with my sense of security.  Women living in other states don’t have the same access to abortion, which is a basic healthcare service.  There are states without a single abortion provider or one clinic left standing.  Some women have to travel for hours to get to a clinic.  Other states have waiting periods, ultrasound requirements, or other harmful barriers to timely care.  We have to reverse this trend of restrictive laws being passed.

As a pharmacist, I don’t provide abortions.  I help facilitate access to this important service by ensuring the other healthcare providers who do provide the medications and/or procedures have the medications needed to maximize safety.  If I’m shaken by this event, I can only image what my colleagues who directly provide abortions must be experiencing.

Abortion providers are beyond brave.  I have so much admiration and appreciation for the work they do.  To be clear, they aren’t just providing abortions.  They are providing a range of healthcare services to women (and men too) who need them.  And they do all this with the remote possibility of a terrorist attack.  Or more commonly, hateful protests outside the clinic, on the driveways in front of their homes, or at their children’s schools.  Thank you for taking care of the 1 in 3 women who gets an abortion at some point in her life.  You are my heroes!  I don’t take my reproductive health care and general health care rights for granted and will continue to advocate for them.

At a recent family planning conference, there were protestors outside the meeting space!  Imagine hundreds of healthcare providers at an educational conference and protestors displaying gruesome posters and disseminating inaccurate information to passersby.

This madness has to stop.  The murderous terrorists and aggressive protestors aren’t making a dent in the determination of healthcare providers to serve their patients.  I wish that everyone could keep their opinions to themselves and respect the personal decisions of others.  Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a basic right — or rather should be.


For more information and perspectives:

Medical and public health student shares her opinion on what the shooting means for medicine

Physician shares her experience as a health care provider in an age of terror

A timeline of domestic terrorism against healthcare providers

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