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July 25, 2000


Communications Department

Pro-Choice Advocates Gather in Philadelphia to Deliver the Message That Safe Abortion Protects Women's Health and Saves Women's Lives

Public Service Ads Currently Up in Philadelphia Subway System Focus on Almost Half of American Women Who Will Have an Abortion and the Qualified Providers of Abortion Care

Philadelphia, PA - Representatives of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition came together today to urge politicians to trust women and physicians with medical decision-making. "Just as abortion crosses racial, socioeconomic, and religious lines, it also crosses party lines," said Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of NAF. "We call on legislators, regardless of their party affiliation, to leave these intensely personal, private health care decisions where they belong: between women and their doctors."

"Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow important reproductive health care decisions to remain with women and their physicians," continued Saporta. "In Dr. Carhart's case against Nebraska's so-called 'partial-birth abortion' ban, the court recognized that a woman's health must be paramount, and that doctors, not legislators, need to decide what's best for their patients. But this victory was handed down by a slim majority. Without dedicated physicians like Dr. Carhart, and without the protection of Roe v. Wade, we will return to a time when women lose their lives because they cannot control their destinies. As both political parties debate this issue over the coming weeks, I ask them to think of women and families, and think of the physicians who put their lives on the line because they know that what they do protects women's health and saves their lives."

Saporta also talked about NAF's public service campaign, which is currently running in the Philadelphia subway system and will continue through the Republican Convention to the end of August. "Our public service campaign is designed to humanize the women who choose abortion and the dedicated physicians who provide them with that care. As a group, abortion providers are highly qualified, dedicated medical professionals whose work ensures that reproductive choice is a reality for women. They care for the estimated 43% of women in this country who will have an abortion by the time they reach age 45. These women are our sisters, mothers and daughters. They are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends. They are nearly half of all the women in the United States."

Joan S. Coombs, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, said, "Our patients are real women trying to make the best choices for themselves and their families in a complicated world. They deserve to be seen as whole people. They deserve dignity, respect and privacy when they are making and carrying out intensely personal decisions about childbearing and their reproductive health."

Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a NAF member physician who recently won his Supreme Court case against Nebraska's so-called "partial-birth abortion" ban in Stenberg v. Carhart, discussed the many obstacles he has faced to continue providing women with safe abortion care, including an arson that burned his family's home, barn, and horses, and the most recent attempt of anti-choice individuals to evict him from his clinic. "One of those individuals, D. Paul Hartnett, is the very same Nebraska legislator who unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill that would have prevented me from donating fetal tissue to the University of Nebraska. Unsuccessful in the courts, these individuals have tried almost every imaginable tactic to try to stop me from providing safe abortion services to women."

"Yet these strategies that the anti-choice activists have employed against me pale when compared to the sacrifices that others have made to keep abortion safe and legal. Doctors and clinic workers have been murdered, several have been grievously injured, and now a close friend has been wounded a second time by a would-be assassin. If you believe in choice, then it is the solemn duty of every American to vote choice as the 'litmus test' for every elected official, and remove the religious right from their elected offices, and the terrorists from the streets."

Cynthia Waters, Board member of the National Abortion Federation and long-time pro-choice advocate, stated, "To quote Maya Angelou, 'We should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.' The vast majority of American citizens continue to believe in a woman's right to choose. And those of us who support choice and self-determined decision-making come in all the threads of the tapestry - rich, poor, black, white, yellow and brown, young and old, Democrat and Republican. All understand that access to safe and legal abortion protects the lives and health of all women. I hope that the language adopted in the Republican platform reflects the opinions of the broader membership of the party, including those represented by the party's pro-choice coalition."


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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