I recently received an email from a woman named Peg Johnston, an old friend up in Binghamton, New York who has been running an abortion facility for many years. She has seen it all: the murders, the bombings, the protests with hundreds of people at her front door. And, like so many of her colleagues, she has persevered.
For many years, she was one of my closest confidants when I was the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers. We went through a lot together and, yes, I was a pain in the ass to her at times (or maybe a lot of times). After I left NCAP, she helped transform the organization into what is now called the Abortion Care Network.
In the early years, NCAP was a Capitol Hill lobbying effort that represented independent abortion providers. To this day, I take pride knowing that we actually got three laws passed that provided protection to the doctors, staff and patients who use these facilities. Later, NCAP started focusing on the business side of the industry, putting together group purchasing plans, business conferences, etc. What really got my juices flowing, however, was NCAP’s effort to de-stigmatize abortion. And I was pleased when I received Peg’s email to see that the Network continues to fight to make abortion more acceptable in this country.
It’s hard to believe that after 40 years of legal abortion, the procedure is still shrouded in mystery, spoken only in whispers. Millions and millions and millions of women have availed themselves of this procedure but so many of them still sit by in silence. And that has allowed the anti-abortion movement to fill in the blanks, to demonize abortion and to make women feel ashamed for having them.
But Peg and her group continue to press the envelope. She and her colleagues have seen women come into their facilities, leave and move on with their lives. They continue to insist that “good women have abortions” and that abortion is “okay.” They also believe – and they taught me – that the pro-choice movement needs to speak more honestly about the abortion procedure. They argue that women are not stupid, that they know exactly what goes on during an abortion and it is an insult to obfuscate. “We Trust Women,” is their catch-phrase.
Whether or not the Abortion Care Network or, for that matter, NCAP has had an impact is hard to tell. But I can tell you personally that it sure felt good not having to worry about trying to avoid the “A” word and just putting it out there. Sure, our candor pissed off our pro-choice colleagues at times, but we slept well at night knowing we were telling the simple truth and that, by doing so, we were lifting the veil of secrecy about abortion.
And now Peg and the Abortion Care Network are on to their next project in their never-ending battle to make abortion more acceptable in this country. Below is a link that announces a new video contest they are sponsoring, which speaks for itself. I encourage everyone to submit their videos, to speak out if you’ve had an abortion and, yes, to send money to the Abortion Care Network:
- Texas Abortion Clinics Say Court’s Ruling Is Forcing Them to Stop the Procedures (nytimes.com)
- Court reinstates most of Texas’ new abortion rules (bigstory.ap.org)
- Oklahoma Top Court Says Law Bans Pill-Induced Abortions – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Texas women turned away at abortion clinics after court ruling – Reuters (reuters.com)