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Op-Ed: Lawmakers Should Listen to Women's Health Care Providers, 'Stay Out' of Exam Rooms

Op-Ed: Lawmakers Should Listen to Women's Health Care Providers, 'Stay Out' of Exam Rooms

January 29, 2015 — "[A]bortion counseling and services" are an "important part" of comprehensive women's health care, but "the struggle to keep abortion safe, legal and accessible to women in need has resurfaced once more," writes ob-gyn Jamila Perritt, medical director Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., in a CQ Roll Call opinion piece.

Perritt writes that federal and state lawmakers are proposing antiabortion-rights bills that purport "to protect women," but "effectively t[ie] the hands of doctors and leav[e] our patients out in the cold." She urges lawmakers "to listen to women's health care providers."

For example, Perritt writes that lawmakers must understand that abortions are part of a variety of services that abortion providers offer as part of caring for patients. She notes, "A woman who is thinking about ending her pregnancy, or who is unsure about what to do or where to go, receives accurate and unbiased information about her options -- parenting, adoption and abortion -- and receives support throughout the process."

Further, lawmakers "need to know abortion is safe largely because it is legal," which makes it "subject to rigorous research, constantly evolving best practices and ... part of a regular medical practice for many women's health care providers," she writes. The legality of abortion also ensures that patients have access to trained medical professionals, who provide "[s]upport without fear" or "judgment."

"[M]y professional experience shows me every day pregnancy is deeply personal, and abortion is a private decision a woman must make for herself and her family," Perritt writes, adding, "Those decisions need to be respected" and lawmakers need "to stay out of [the] exam room" (Perritt, CQ Roll Call, 1/28).