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Friday, January 23, 2015

In Response: Women’s Health Center provides safe, legal services

Since Roe v. Wade was decided Jan. 22, 1973, a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy has been the law of this land. Although we defend the right of Jay Steinke, who serves on the board of the Lake Superior Life Care Center in Duluth, to express his opinion, as he did with a commentary in the News Tribune (Local View: “Roe v. Wade anniversary brings pain,” Jan. 15), we must address some of his emotional and false statements.

At the Women’s Health Center in Duluth, we provide safe, legal abortion services that are in 100 percent compliance with pregnancy-termination restrictions and procedures, as dictated by the Minnesota Legislature and court system.

Our physicians and trained staff ensure each woman completely understands all of her options and is fully comfortable with her decision, whatever it is. It is simply not true that “young girls” are coerced by “friends, family and men” to have abortions; our protocol and personnel ensure this does not happen. Furthermore, our clients range in age from teens to well over 40, and they come from multiple ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The reality is that for some, there is little chance of support — emotional or financial — from their impregnator, family or society after the pregnancy.

In addition to providing safe, legal abortion services, both pharmaceutical/medical and surgical, the Women’s Health Center provides families with complete family-planning services, including dispensing to qualifying clients free birth-control pills, implant devices and IUDs. We maintain satellite family-planning clinics in five counties and serve the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin and all of Minnesota north of the Twin Cities. We believe this is crucial to reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies and, thus, of course, abortions.

If abortion became illegal, it would not go away. Again, women and girls would die in back alleys at the hands of “butchers.” The rich would fly to other countries. And those less fortunate either would choose unsafe abortions or be forced against their will to carry an unwanted pregnancy — even victims of rape and incest.

To be pro-choice is to be pro-safety and against needless maiming and the loss of life for American women of child-bearing age.

The abortion “issue,” as Steinke called it, is a matter of rights and freedom. The right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy rests with the woman; her rights as a living, breathing, sentient human being prevail over the rights of a non-viable embryo. We agree, and we trust each woman to be able to make this difficult decision.

Therefore, it is our responsibility, according to the law of this land, to be sure that women have access to medically safe abortions and care, including birth-control information and methods, most of them free. We do this at the Women’s Health Center. It is not profitable, and it is not glamorous. But as citizens of the United States, it is our right — and it is the right thing to do.

The Roe v. Wade anniversary is not “stealthily” ignored or disregarded, as Steinke implied. Rather, it is honored nationwide by supporters of choice. Happy anniversary, Roe vw. Wade.


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