ACLU Salutes Abortion Providers on National Day of Appreciation (March 10)

March 7, 2000 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union is proud to stand today in support of abortion providers nationwide who have demonstrated remarkable courage, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to women.

This year, to help you express your thanks, we are providing Internet users with a Personal Thank You that you can sign and present to your local abortion providers. We urge those who care about the right to choose to take this opportunity to recognize the people who make that right a reality.

While today is a day of appreciation, March 10th also commemorates the anniversary of a tragic event: the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida. In the seven years since that violent act, anti-choice extremists have continued to harass and intimidate doctors and their families.

In 1999, incidents of arson, bio-terrorism, bomb threats, and other harassment against reproductive health care clinics and abortion providers continued to climb. In addition, two suspects believed to be responsible for some of the most violent anti-choice attacks, Eric Rudolph and James Kopp, remained at large. Thankfully, however, there were no murders last year and violent crime decreased.

Abortion providers face not only violence and harassment but legislative assaults on their practices. In recent years, legislatures across the country, including Congress, have passed and continue to pass laws that threaten doctors with criminal penalties, including prison terms, for providing abortions. Under some legislation, providers can face criminal charges for performing some of the most common abortion procedures used throughout pregnancy. Other laws force doctors and clinics to comply with onerous physical plant requirements; to offer state-mandated and -scripted counseling to their patients; and to delay their patients’ abortions in accordance with waiting-period laws. Providers must spend increasing time and resources complying with or challenging these laws in court.

Violence, harassment, and legislative interference are part of a broad anti-choice campaign designed to eliminate women’s access to abortion by, in part, deterring doctors from becoming abortion providers. Unfortunately, in 86% of all the counties in the U.S. women already cannot obtain an abortion. Without providers, women have no choice. Therefore, we salute the courage and compassion of doctors and clinic workers who continue to offer abortions. We stand in awe of their determination to offer this essential medical service even in the face of violence and unrelenting harassment at many levels.

Today, as the ACLU recognizes and appreciates these heroes of the pro-choice movement, we also renew our commitment to protecting a woman’s fundamental right to choose — and access — abortion.

The ACLU, at the forefront of the struggle for reproductive rights since its inception in 1920, is the only pro-choice legal organization with a presence in all 50 states. In 1974 it founded the Reproductive Freedom Project to coordinate the legal, legislative, and public defense of the endangered rights secured by Roe v. Wade.

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