Point of View

End new limits on abortion access

June 25, 2014 

As a certified nurse-midwife, I am trained to promote and encourage both the health and autonomy of the patients I serve. It is hard to think of health care without autonomy, yet for many women in North Carolina this is far too often a reality.

Working at a family planning clinic at a health department, I have the pleasure to care for so many generous women. These women have taught me, however, that bodily autonomy is far too often hindered or taken away completely. I see patients whose partners removed their contraceptive devices, threw out their pills or refused to use condoms. I care for women living through domestic violence, sexual coercion. and a number of other impossible situations.

For women like these, unplanned pregnancies are often a result of a basic lack of bodily autonomy. And it is for these women and so many others that abortion must be an accessible part of their reproductive health care needs.

For these reasons I’m going to Washington, D.C. this week with the Center for Reproductive Rights to advocate for the Women’s Health Protection Act in Congress.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would ensure that access to safe, legal abortion isn’t based on where a woman lives. It seeks to prohibit state laws that interfere with a woman’s right to make autonomous health care decisions as well as laws that limit the ability of clinics and providers performing these legal procedures.

If signed into federal law, the Women’s Health Protection Act would directly affect extreme laws like North Carolina’s new requirements for women’s health care clinics. This harmful legislation bill snuck through the North Carolina legislature last summer as part of a motorcycle safety bill. It has far-reaching consequences that limit a woman’s access to abortion, including closing reproductive health care clinics throughout the state.

Women and families in North Carolina deserve better. Access to abortion, an essential component of reproductive health, helps ensure bodily autonomy to the women of our state. Our elected officials have a responsibility to ensure we aren’t subject to harmful bills, policies or amendments that infringe on our rights and reproductive autonomy.

The Women’s Health Protection Act puts control back in the hands of the women who deserve and need it for their reproductive health. Please call your representatives in Congress and tell them you support a women’s right to plan when and if she will have a family.

Amy Alspaugh, a Durham resident, has worked in a women’s health clinic.

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