March 10th is National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, which was created in 1996 to honor the life and work of Dr. David Gunn who was murdered by an anti-choice extremist and white supremacist on March 10, 1993, during a protest outside of his clinic in Florida.
Now, we take this day to amplify the courageous and vital work of abortion providers across the nation–as we celebrate the medical professionals who show up with compassion each day for patients in need of health care, even as they face consistent threats aimed at their careers, clinics, and very lives.
Violence directed at providers and their patients has continued in the 29 years since Dr. Gunn’s death, and these attacks reach far beyond threats to physical safety and security. There are countless laws in America created to limit access to our judicial right to abortion, criminalize the procedure, and even prosecute abortion providers.
In Texas, Senate Bill 8 became law last September. It allows private citizens to sue providers –or anyone allegedly involved in “aiding and abetting” the procedure– over abortions performed after six weeks, before most people know they’re pregnant.
The result: We’re effectively living in a post-Roe Texas.
This cruel law has taken government overreach to a new level by expanding what the government can do to our bodies and controlling abortion providers’ ability to perform safe medical procedures. In addition, not allowing Texans to make their own healthcare decisions has overwhelmed clinics and providers in neighboring states, causing people across the region to struggle with finding abortion care. This is compounded by the anxiety so many providers and pro-abortion proponents are feeling as we brace for the upcoming June Supreme Court decision that will decide the fate of Roe v. Wade.
Providers are exhausted. Heartbroken. Still fighting–and while they certainly deserve our appreciation and gratitude, that is not enough. Providers, and their patients, need our support.
Abortion is often an issue spoken about from a distance–happening to someone else, somewhere else.
If you live in Texas, you are undoubtedly reading this as someone finds out they will be forced to remain pregnant against their will because they couldn’t get a positive test until 7 weeks into a pregnancy. The medical professional caring for them must still look the patient in the eye and say, “you’ll have to carry this pregnancy to term or leave your home state to receive the health care you need.”
You will be successful in receiving the healthcare you need if:
You can take off work.
You can find childcare for your children.
You can access the funds needed to travel (and to eat while you do).
You can access the funds needed for an abortion.
You can get a judicial bypass as a minor (and conceal the procedure/travel from family members who may try to stop you).
You can get away from an abusive or unsupportive partner for two or more days.
These barriers disproportionately harm Black people–who are already more likely to struggle with accessing reproductive healthcare in Texas than white people.
If you’re able to traverse these obstacles, the next “if” is whether or not a neighboring state has an appointment for you.
If not, a new provider in a new state will have to say to you over the phone, “I’m sorry. I am so sorry, but we cannot help you either.”
You call the one clinic in Mississippi, and they can’t get you in before the 15-week cut-off in their state.
You call a clinic in Louisiana, and they have one appointment. But the state requires two separate appointments before your abortion, and there’s a 24-hour waiting period between them. They can’t fit you in for a second appointment in time.
There are no appointments in Oklahoma, either. At least not in the timeframe you need.
For abortion providers, abortion care needs are not a topic that’s happening somewhere else. Their reality consists of spending hours on the phone with those who feel desperate and alone, forgoing days off to treat as many people as possible, and knowing they still can’t provide abortion care for everyone who needs it.
These healthcare professionals keep showing up for us and our community. Even within the heaviness of the present moment–there are ways that we can show our appreciation for abortion providers today and every day after:
Write a thank-you note to your local abortion provider, reach out (in advance, don’t show up unannounced) to see what support clinic staff might want or need right now (meals, snacks, help with clinic upkeep, planting flowers, etc.), or donate to local, independent providers and funds currently helping Texans access care.
Talk about abortion and the importance of abortion access with the people in your life. Explain to them that it is safe, necessary, and normal.
Each time we talk about abortion with factual information and use language that is free of stigma and shame, we are honoring the work of advocates and abortion providers–and we are joining them in the fight to keep reproductive healthcare accessible.
If you know an abortion provider, thank them today—and keep checking in on them as they navigate an unbelievably difficult time for abortion access.
Providers need our care, too.
Thank you to all of the abortion providers and advocates in Texas and across the nation. You are needed, you are supported, and we appreciate you at a level that is beyond words.