Honoring Abortion Providers during Women’s History Month

The following op-ed was written for “The Breeze” by Sarah Hogg, Spring 2015 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at James Madison University. Feel free to email Sarah or connect with her on Twitter @SarahLovely.

March is Women’s History Month, a time where we can celebrate and honor women in history who have contributed to society in meaningful and revolutionary ways. This is also a time where we can pay homage to women who paved the way for the women’s equality movement and recognize those women who are currently doing wonderful work to further feminist goals in our contemporary world. People of all genders can draw strength from the awe-inspiring women who came before us and use this month as a time of reflection about how far the women’s equality movement has come and where we’re going next. While Women’s History Month is widely known and appreciated, there is a certain day in March that is often forgotten, but is also extremely important—the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.

The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers has been observed annually on March 10th since 1996. March 10th is the anniversary of Dr. David Gunn’s death in 1993, the first abortion provider to be murdered by anti-choice extremists. Since 1993, the violence has only gotten worse—on May 31st, 2009, abortion provider Dr. David Tiller was murdered, perhaps the most well-known case of anti-choice violence in history. Furthermore, clinics around the nation are relentlessly threatened and antagonized by anti-choice protestors—a form of violence in itself. It is not uncommon for staff at women’s health centers that provide abortions to go through intense training on what to do if a bomb threat is called in or if a gunman enters the clinic. When I interned at my local Planned Parenthood, we were trained to check under our cars for explosives when we left work for the day. Doctors, nurses, and all other clinic staff, escorts, and volunteers are under constant threat—anyone who plays a crucial role in abortion access can potentially be effected by anti-choice violence.

The National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers honors the bravery of abortion providers and recognizes the necessary and courageous work they do every single day. Showing appreciation for abortion providers ties in perfectly with Women’s History Month—while doctors, nurses, and all other clinic staff can be of any gender, protecting abortion access and providing abortions themselves inherently helps advance women’s equality. Pro-choice activists and advocates work tirelessly everyday so that women can seek abortion access (and all other types of reproductive healthcare) in safe and legal ways, and the doctors providing those abortions are true heroes.

Reproductive freedom is a fundamental part of feminism and the women’s equality movement, something we cannot forget when celebrating and honoring Women’s History Month. We must remember what life was like pre-Roe v. Wade and pay homage to the doctors and activists who made abortion possible before 1973 while also working to prevent any future anti-choice attacks. This Women’s History Month, consider taking time out of your day on March 10th to honor abortion providers by writing a letter, composing a tweet, or engaging in many of the online campaigns held by pro-choice organizations across the country. Your words of support and encouragement will go a long way!

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