As a citizen of Arizona I would like to respond to Ms. (Cathi) Herrod’s opinion piece dated January 5 and clarification to her claims.
She discussed an investigation regarding trafficking of aborted body parts. If she is referring to the ALTERED Planned Parenthood videos I would like to make clear the findings of the U.S. House of Representatives, vice-president elect Mike Pence and the attorney general of Massachusetts. All found there was no wrongdoing.
Ms. Herrod goes on to say that the many restrictive abortion laws in Arizona have led to a lower abortion rate. Further clarification of this comment finds the abortion rate was 50 percent lower from 2004 to 2014, while the pregnancy rate was also 50 percent lower! The rational deduction from this is that better contraception access and financial help from the Affordable Care Act has increased use of birth control. We are doing a good job. We are preventing unintended pregnancies. Teen pregnancy rates have also declined. This is due to better sex education in schools which has been proven to decrease pregnancy rates and sexually irresponsible behavior.
She calls Planned Parenthood an “abortion giant” when only 3 percent of their services relate to abortions. Annually Planned Parenthood treats 4.2 million persons for sexually transmitted diseases, provides outreach to 1.5 million people, prevents 579,000 unintended pregnancies and provides over 635,000 cancer screenings.
Ms. Herrod is an anti-choice activist/lobbyist so she has an agenda to put forward, but I cannot in good conscience agree with her use of the words “PRO-LIFE.” All healthcare providers, parents and most citizens are pro-life and the majority of people in the U.S. consider themselves “pro-choice,” which we define as “abortion is a personal matter and no one has the right to interfere with a woman’s choice about her reproductive decisions.”
Her referral to abortion regret is also misinformed. A recent study stated that 95 percent of women had no regrets about their abortions. What can be detrimental is exaggerated and false information given by radical anti-choice groups and CPC (crisis pregnancy centers). Even women who are deeply religious, already mothers or not supported by loved ones heal quickly and without long term psychological injury. If you look, you will always find an outlier. Abortion regret is a myth perpetrated by the anti-choice agenda. All abortion providers provide pre-abortion counseling which gives women all the needed facts, answers all their questions and makes sure she is comfortable, sure of her decision and is not coerced. No woman that is unsure or unready is pushed into any procedure. All staff and providers at abortion facilities are trained in body language, psychological cues and crisis counseling. After an abortion, all women are followed up or urged to return for post counseling if desired.
Arizona should not be proud of its status when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. It still needs to make this state more helpful, inclusive and supportive to all. While many providers, lawmakers and citizens work hard to support, educate, provide and care for women every day, there is still so much to do. Instead of spending time discussing and focusing on women’s private business, we in Arizona should spend more time supporting and helping women, families and all citizens of our great state. WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
Sharon Girard is a retired women’s health care provider and member of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. She lives in Eloy.