Source: Courier Post Online
With Roe v. Wade overturned, we’re grappling with the bleak reality that half of the states in our country either have or will soon strip people’s legal right to abortion care. Here in New Jersey, many people feel safe knowing that our recent passage of the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act protects our legal right to abortion even without Roe.
But I work at an abortion clinic in Cherry Hill, and I know that even in New Jersey, the legal right to abortion doesn’t mean all people have actual access to it.
At the moment, we’re one of the only providers in South Jersey that provides comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care throughout pregnancy. That means that a patient living in Cape May County — which has no abortion clinics — would have to drive nearly 100 miles just to get to our clinic.
Even if patients do reach our clinic they’re forced to deal with anti-abortion protestors who harass them and try to block their entrance to the clinic. They even create huge “WANTED” style posters with our staff’s photos and personal information on them. Protestors will sometimes hide in bushes and try to scare staff, and many protestors are part of known white supremacist groups.
As more people come from out of state to access care in New Jersey, the last thing they need is harassment, shaming, and stigmatization in a place they thought would be a safe haven. We can each do our part by rejecting anti-abortion stigma in conversations with our friends and family, speaking out about the importance of abortion access, and affirming that all people deserve access to care with dignity and respect.
If you’re ready to get involved with your local clinic, you can make a donation or volunteer as a clinic escort to be one of the first smiling faces our patients encounter and reassure them of their safety and rights — especially when sidewalk bullies and protesters are present.
It’s time to put patient privacy first and strictly ban the filming of providers, patients, and staff entering clinics. Insurance plans in New Jersey should cover abortion and birth control with no cost-sharing or out-of-pocket costs. And people who don’t have insurance should be able to rely on state funding. We should also be protecting our state’s providers as well as patients who come from out of state from being sued, extradited, subpoenaed, or criminalized in any way by states with cruel abortion bans.
Meanwhile, here in Cherry Hill, we will continue to be a warm, friendly, and inviting space that allows patients the freedom to make thoughtful pregnancy decisions surrounded by staff who respect their choices. Our staff will continue to de-escalate harassment and violence, but we need you to help draw awareness to this issue.
Abortion is an essential part of reproductive health care. Our state has legislated that fact, and now we need to make it a reality for all.