From Jenny Black, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:
After 17 years away, I returned home last month to North Carolina to lead one of the region’s largest Planned Parenthood affiliates.
I take the legacy of our care seriously, which is why, during my second week on the job, I attended a North Carolina legislative hearing to testify against a bill aimed at restricting access to safe and legal abortion.
I’d hoped to share stories about the women we care for everyday. Women who understand fully the impact of the deeply personal decision they are making. I assumed legislators would want to hear from experts; I could not have been more wrong.
Instead of sharing stories, I listened as speakers chosen by the committee chair testified in support of forcing a woman to wait an additional 72 hours before obtaining a legal medical procedure.
One witness suggested a pregnant woman’s judgment becomes “cloudy,” while another claimed women need more time to “reconsider” their decision.
Since proponents of the bill dominated the committee, no mention was made of a second provision that jeopardizes patient confidentiality. It forces doctors to share private ultrasound images from a woman’s medical files with the government – a breach of patient trust.
The truth is this bill has nothing to do with providing a woman more time to consider her options – to choose adoption, raise a child, or end a pregnancy.
It’s about forcing a woman to jump through state-mandated hoops so that she is too afraid, exhausted, broke, or late to make the decision she knows is right for her and her family.
But, here’s the reality. A woman will do what she needs to do in order to make a deeply personal decision about her pregnancy. More than 60 percent of women who choose to end a pregnancy are already mothers. They understand the joys and tremendous responsibilities that come with motherhood.
Women will overcome barriers imposed by politicians because they have given this decision tremendous thought – far more than 72 hours.
By the time a woman decides to end a pregnancy, she is certain of her decision. If she is not, her doctor will encourage her to wait – her doctor, not her legislator, who has no business being involved in her medical care.
When I came home to North Carolina, I did so with a full heart knowing that I would be part of an organization dedicated to making sure that every woman has the ability and means to decide when or whether to become a mother for the first, second, or fourth time.
Regardless of what politicians in Raleigh say or do, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is more committed than ever to making sure every woman has the right to make her own deeply personal health decisions – no matter what.