The following statement was made on Friday, August 24 outside Shands hospital:
Women need more abortion providers!
Abortion is a matter of justice for women. As pioneer of the second wave of the American women's liberation movement Carol Giardina said, "abortion is not a 'single issue' or an apolitical, medical procedure. It's a feminist demand and must be fought for as part of a militant mass Women's Liberation Movement.1" So we ask all of you here today in support of us, to join a feminist organization and give it your time and money so we can win.
Good Afternoon. My name is Natalie Maxwell and I am a student in the Gainesville Women's Liberation class "Women's Liberation: Where Do I Fit In?" In the class we looked at the history of the women's liberation movement as well as our own experiences as women. After examining our experiences with abortion, pregnancy scares, birth control and having kids, we have found that we have many barriers to overcome in deciding whether or not we'll have a kid. We have to fight with guys to wear condoms; we don't have enough access to the morning after pill (emergency contraception); and we can barely scrape together the money to get an abortion. When we do have children, men won't do their part and we can't get good childcare.
When I needed an abortion, cost was the biggest obstacle I faced. The cost of a 1st trimester abortion is nearly twice my rent. If I hadn't saved enough before the second trimester then the cost would have increased to $1500, making it even more out of reach. One reason it's so expensive is there are so few providers. In fact, a few abortion providers serve most of North Central Florida.
We found that the rate of abortion providers is drastically dropping. In 1997, only 36% of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) reported ever performing elective abortions. 2 Among those, 57% were 50 years of age or older.2 Who will provide abortions when they retire? First trimester abortion techniques are a routine part of only 12% of America's OB/GYN residency programs, 27% provide no opportunity at all for young doctors to learn safe, abortions.3 The current number of providers is nearly 1/3 fewer than in 1982.4 86% of US counties have no provider at all.4
We requested a meeting with the UF Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Director to voice our concerns. However, Dr. Duff refused to meet with us.
This is not the first time that feminists have fought on this issue. In 1996, UF President Lombardi attempted to prevent residents from receiving training at local abortion clinics. The National Organization for Women and Refuse and Resist protested in front of the Jacksonville Shands hospital for nine days until President Lombardi reversed his decision.4
Abortion is essential for women to control the course of our lives. As the largest public residency program in Florida and the primary source of obstetric and gynecologic care for many women in the surrounding community, UF has a responsibility to meet our medical needs. This includes making sure there are more abortion providers. Women are the experts about what we need and what is good for us.
THEREFORE, WE DEMAND: The UF OB/ GYN residency program work to increase the number of abortion providers in order to meet the needs of the 50% of women who will need one.5
Women need more abortion providers, it's your responsibility to provide them!
This action came out of the Summer 2001 community education class, "Women's Liberation: Where Do I Fit In?" For more information, contact Gainesville Women's Liberation at P.O. Box 2625, Gainesville FL 32602, 352-377-9935.
1. Gainesville Women's Liberation co-founder Carol Giardina at a National Organization for Women rally in Ocala, FL April 23, 1989, after an abortion clinic was burned to the ground after two arson attempts.
2. Kaiser Family Foundation, www.kff.org
3. MacKay, H.T. & MacKay, A.P. Abortion Training in Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Programs in the United States, 1991-1992. Family Planning Perspectives, 1995, 27:112-115
4. Alan Guttmacher Institute, www.agi-usa.org, referred to us by the Medical Students for Choice, www.ms4c.org.
5. Brown, Jenny. "Medical Residents Will Still Perform Abortions, UF Says." Gainesville Iguana, July/August, 1996.
Gainesville Women's Liberation class members deliver letters to officials inside Shands Teaching hospital August 25, drawing attention to the obligation of the residency program to meet the medical needs--includin gthe abortion needs--of women in Florida.
Natalie Maxwell of Campus National Organization for Women makes a statement at the west entrance of Shands Teaching Hospital on August 25, as part of an action by a class taught by Gainesville Women's Liberation. See p. 22 for the complete text of the statement.
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