Standing strong, telling our stories

Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

Words cannot express the sadness and horror we at Advocates for Youth feel about the events that unfolded this weekend at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Armed with a rifle and other devices, the attacker held the clinic hostage for hours, injured nine people, and took three lives.

These acts are unthinkable. They are also part of a long history of violence against providers and clinics which provide abortion care. The last three decades have seen dozens of attacks – with vehicles, pipe bombs, gasoline, and bullets.

And as the violence continues, violent words feed it – activists and politicians spew an endless stream of epithets, false accusations, misleading video, and outright lies about Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Make no mistake, anti-abortion activists take these steps with purpose. They intend to stop abortion at any cost – to fill people with fear and discomfort in even talking about it. In this silence, legislative and cultural attacks on abortion care can flourish.

But we can fight back by speaking out, by sharing our stories. Millions of us have had abortions. Ending the silence, speaking freely about our real experiences and listening to the experiences of others, is how we begin to create a culture of empathy, compassion, and support for access to abortion care – one in which abortion care providers are not vilified but are honored and respected for providing needed health care.

We condemn politicized rhetoric that continues to stigmatize women’s reproductive and sexual health services and look forward to a time when no provider or patient needs to worry for his or her own safety. Advocates is proud to be part of the movement working to ensure that all women have access to the reproductive sexual health care services that they need, including abortion care. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. As one of these women I’m personally grateful to Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers for standing strong and keeping their doors open even in the face of adversity and danger.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains centers are open today, as are clinics around the nation. They are not letting fear keep them from providing vital services. And I will not let fear keep me from sharing my story. Advocates for Youth stands with Planned Parenthood today and every day.