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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 11, 2000

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Communications Department
202-667-5881

Pro-Choice Advocates Refute Anti-Choice Ads That Mislead Women about the Emotional Effects of Abortion

National Abortion Federation Public Service Ads, Featuring Toll-Free Abortion Hotline Number, Present Accurate Information About Abortion to Boston Women

Boston, MA - "Our public service campaign is designed to humanize the close to half of American women who will have an abortion in their lifetime, and the dedicated physicians who provide them with safe reproductive health care," said Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). NAF's first-ever public service campaign in Boston is currently reaching 300,000 Boston area residents each day, and will be up on subway cars through the end of June.

Saporta contrasted the NAF ads with those currently being run by Project Rachel in Boston: "We first became aware of Project Rachel's ad campaign when a woman who'd had an abortion told us how deeply misleading she felt the ads were. What she knew, and what all women should know, is that while some women may experience regret, sadness or guilt after an abortion, the overwhelming response is relief."

Saporta continued, "The truth is that mainstream medical organizations, like the American Psychological Association, agree that there is no such thing as 'post-abortion syndrome,' yet those who oppose choice continue to tell women otherwise. They continue to send the message to women that they should feel guilt or remorse for making their own personal reproductive health care decisions. In our ads, we remind people that women who have abortions are our sisters, our daughters, and our mothers; women we know and love. And, instead of vilifying them, we should give them the support they deserve."

Echoing Saporta, Dr. Maureen Paul, incoming President of NAF and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, said, "I am surprised by ads like Project Rachel's, because the makers of these ads have no idea what women who choose abortion actually experience. I have delivered thousands of babies and helped many women with fertility problems, but it is only after I have provided an abortion that women say to me, 'I don't know what I would have done without you... You've saved my life.' Abortion truly gives women a chance to change the course of their lives."

Paul shared her personal story of experiencing an unintended pregnancy five years before Roe v. Wade. She was 18 years old at the time, and had first tried to obtain an illegal abortion. When she realized she did not have the money to pay for the abortion, she went before a therapeutic abortion committee at a hospital, but was refused. "So I was forced to carry the pregnancy against my will and give the baby up for adoption, which was clearly the hardest, most painful, and most coercive experience of my life."

Paul added, "I became an abortion provider because I wanted to help women. I know that the best way to do that is to give them all of the information they need to make the choices that are right for them. And although there are some who want to punish women for making one decision over another, I know that the best thing we can do for women is respect their choice and offer our support."

The Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, stated, "As people of faith, we are pro-choice because we are for women and men and children and families who struggle to be faithful to God's will for them, in the face of the very real complexities of their lives. Women making these complex moral decisions need to know they have our respect, that we honor and celebrate them for making and acting on and living with complicated ethical decisions." She continued, "They need to know that people of faith are prayerfully pro-choice."

Caroline Mitchell, a second-year medical student at Harvard Medical School and co-coordinator of the Medical Students for Choice chapter at her school, added, "The best day that I have had in the last two years of medical school was spent in an abortion clinic, shadowing Dr. Paul. The patients I met were from a range of backgrounds, but each expressed the same feelings when the procedure was over: relief, and gratitude for Dr. Paul's help. I went home that day as happy as I have ever been about my decision to be a doctor; finally, here was proof that doctors do make a dramatic difference in people's lives."

Saporta also said of abortion providers, "The outstanding safety record of abortion is, in large part, a testimony to the skill and quality of abortion providers. Their dedication to the women they care for is apparent in the extraordinary determination they exhibit in the face of threats and violence directed against them. Since 1993, seven people have died as a result of anti-choice violence. Two murders occurred not far from where I'm speaking today. We must therefore continue to send the message in communities across the country that no health care provider should have to risk their life to provide a legally protected health care service."

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The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.
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