March 10, 2019, marked the twenty-sixth National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. The date was chosen to honor the memory of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider who was murdered by a ‘pro-life’ extremist outside his Florida clinic in 1993. Since then, the number of threats and attacks on abortion clinics and providers has increased dramatically. Often, providing abortion care means providers have to put their own safety and well-being at risk. In Dr. Gunn’s memory, Reproaction spent the weekend taking action in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., to uplift and celebrate the work of abortion providers, including doctors, nurses, clinic staff, escorts, doulas, and others who work every day to provide abortion services and keep the doors of local clinics open.
We kicked things off the day before by supporting clinic access with a positive presence action at the Falls Church Healthcare Center in Northern Virginia. A dozen activists gathered outside of the clinic early in the morning despite close to freezing temperatures. This month’s presence took place during the opposition’s ‘40 Days for Life,’ a semiannual event. The event often invites a larger number of protesters to the clinic, who pray, chant, and try to dissuade patients from entering the clinic. To offset the number of these supposedly ‘pro-life’ protesters, activists stood along the sidewalk holding signs with messages reading, “I support your choice” and “Trust women.” Despite the opposition’s aggression, activists with Reproaction and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia stood our ground.
Our positive presences, which we host monthly, are an opportunity for us to stand up and show the clinic, patients, and community that there is a group of people who will take action for abortion access. We focus on being a positive and supportive force, and we do not counter-protest or interact with abortion opponents.
In the afternoon, we headed to Washington, D.C., to host a thank you card party with the Women’s Information Network (WIN). With lots of snacks and craft supplies, we spent the afternoon decorating cards, and talking about abortion access. By the time we finished, 16 activists had come and created more than 50 cards. The cards, which activists personalized with heartfelt messages, were then sent to independent clinics in Maryland and Virginia.
At Reproaction, we know that access to abortion is becoming increasingly more limited, and with the recent shift in power at the Supreme Court, the constitutional right to abortion is at a greater risk than ever before. We are proud to enthusiastically stand up for abortion rights and celebrate abortion providers.
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