Trigger Warning: This statement mentions pregnancy complications and violence.
“Sometimes this work pushes me to the edge,” an abortion provider told me the other day. “It tests my physical and emotional boundaries. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This work is necessary.”
Today is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, a day to celebrate the selfless and heroic act of providing compassionate abortion care. The holiday was started in 1996 in honor of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider fatally shot on March 10th, 19931. More than a quarter-century later, abortion providers and clinics still face constant hostility and harassment.
This year, almost 400 anti-abortion bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country2. With horrifying bills like Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban passed yesterday3, the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would mean that legal abortion for people living in 22 states – including our neighbor Idaho – would effectively end, and the average distance needed to travel to reach an abortion clinic would increase from 36 to 280 miles4. This is a stark reminder that the work is at the state level5.
In fact, Washington state has seen a recent increase in anti-abortion and white nationalist action outside abortion clinics. More than 50% of Washington’s hospital beds have operating policies that restrict abortion and other forms of reproductive health services, despite the codification of Roe in Washington in 1991.
As Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, I have thought a lot about what Abortion Provider Appreciation could look like in this context. While we shout out our love for abortion provider heroes, it is clear that we need to do more.
Our job as a grassroots movement is to drive the necessary policy and cultural shifts that will make it easier for abortion providers to do their work. Over time, education, community-building, advocacy, and lobbying will shift the narrative and will help people see that there is nothing radical, nothing extreme, nothing controversial about providing compassionate healthcare. This movement is built on love and deep respect for autonomy.
Abortion providers and independent clinics deserve so much more than just one day. Their work makes it possible for every person in a community to enjoy reproductive freedom, whether or not they directly receive abortion care. Please join me in celebrating Abortion Provider Appreciation Day by becoming a reproductive freedom member to help ensure providers can provide without fear. Please also consider sharing your love and gratitude for our incredible reproductive freedom partners and independent abortion clinics by finding and supporting local independent abortion clinics here.
About Kia Guarino: Kia Guarino is Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.