On May 2, Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint asks the Office for Civil Rights to investigate MedStar Washington Hospital’s discriminatory practice of prohibiting its physicians and health care providers from speaking publicly about abortion. Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood issued this statement in support of Dr. Horvath-Cosper:
“Physicians for Reproductive Health supports the efforts of Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, a fellow of our Leadership Training Academy, to be a vocal advocate for reproductive health. We are deeply concerned that she has been forced to choose between her job and her conviction to speak out about providing abortion care.
“As physicians, we have a professional duty to talk about injustices that affect our patients. From health care reform to combating gun violence, to advocating for safe and timely access to abortion, advocacy is fast becoming a key part of being a physician. The media and policy makers look to us to help them understand medical issues.
“I am an abortion provider and I feel obligated to speak out about what I do to support my patients and help combat the stigma that surrounds this essential health care. I have been fortunate to be involved with organizations that understand the importance of the physician voice and have worked carefully with the institutions where I have been employed to make sure that they are comfortable with my media and policy advocacy.
“In today’s climate of harassment, intimidation, and incendiary rhetoric, physicians that want to speak out about abortion care need to be supported, not silenced. To openly advocate as an abortion provider can carry risk, but forbidding physicians from advocating discredits the life-saving care we provide to our patients. Too many of us feel constrained by our employerswhen it comes to discussing the importance of safe and legal abortion.
“At Physicians for Reproductive Health, part of our mission is to train physicians to be equipped to speak out for their patient’s health and to feel supported by a network of colleagues around the country. To date we have trained more than 240 physicians, from a variety of medical specialties, many of whom provide abortion care. These dedicated doctors have compassion for their patients and are proud of the care they provide. We all benefit when they speak out, countering misinformation and stigma. We hope that Dr. Horvath-Cosper will soon be able to freely communicate in her personal capacity about her beliefs and experiences as an abortion provider.”
Medical students and physicians from across the state of California made their way to Sacramento last week to advocate for legislation that would improve access to safe, reliable birth control. The bill, SB 999, would require all health care service plans and insurers to cover up to 12-months of FDA-approved contraception when dispensed at one time.
Physicians for Reproductive Health partnered with TEACH — Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare – to participate in the advocacy day. Our group visited 16 legislative offices, both Democratic and Republican, which included a meeting with Governor Jerry Brown’s Legislative Director for Health, Donna Campbell. A number of our advocates also rallied on the steps of the State Capitol in support of repealing the Maximum Family Grant Rule, which denies basic needs subsidies for children born to women receiving CalWorks grants.
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in Zubik v. Burwell, dozens of reproductive rights supporters rallied on the Court steps – with hundreds more joining online in a #HandsOffMyBC digital rally. Members of Physicians for Reproductive Health, including Physicians’ Jodi Magee, attended the hearing.
At stake in Zubik is whether their employers can make it more difficult, if not impossible, for women to access essential birth control coverage. Access to contraception is critical to the health and well-being of women. That’s why, earlier this year, Physicians for Reproductive Health joined with numerous medical groups – including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Nurses Association – to file an amicus brief before the Court in the case.
As the brief explains: “Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals based on the best interests of the patient. This is best accomplished when contraceptive coverage is provided within the same overall framework as a woman’s other health care services in consultation with a woman’s chosen provider.”
Join in the rally on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #HandsOffMyBC.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, Texas House Bill 2 (HB2). Now, new research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) in the American Journal of Public Health shows that the forced closure of over half of abortion clinics in Texas has, as predicted, resulted in significant burdens for women — including increased travel distances, high out-of-pocket costs, overnight stays, and decreased access to medication abortion. For women in the study whose nearest abortion clinic closed after HB2, the average distance to the nearest provider increased fourfold.
According to author Liza Fuentes: “This study is unusual in its ability to assess multiple burdens imposed on women as a result of clinic closures, but it is important to note that the burdens documented here are not the only hardships that women experienced as a result of HB2.” Previous research by TxPEP has documented both increased wait times experienced by all women accessing abortion care in Texas after HB2 as well as cases of women who were not able to obtain abortion care due to clinic closures.