March 10 may seem like another uneventful day for those stuck in a cubicle or scampering across town running errands, but for many who take an interest in women's reproductive rights, it's a day to recognize the people who, in their own quiet way, put their safety at risk to provide women the safe and proper healthcare they are entitled to. The annual National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers on Tuesday, March 10 marks the anniversary of the death of Dr. David Gunn — who was murdered outside his abortion clinic by an anti-abortion extremist in 1993 — and is a day of appreciation for those who similarly put their lives on the line to provide much-needed abortion services, while pushing back against the stigma surrounding the safe, legal and rightful care to women.
While the affair is typically relatively placid, anti-abortion advocates have been known to resort to violence in their protests against pro-choicers (Dr. Gunn's tragic death is a prime example). A number of people and organizations alike took to social media to express their gratitude for those who continue to provide abortion services in the face of widespread political pushback today, helmed by an increasingly right-leaning Republican party.
While there were the detractors on social media as well, naturally, the dedication of a day to thank abortion providers, who are so often vilified and stigmatized for the honorable and important work that they do is important. As an obstetrician and gynecologist, and a Fellow in Family Planning at the University of Michigan, Dr. Sarah Wallett wrote the following in her reflection of the day of appreciation:
On some days, the negative reactions to my work as an abortion provider can get the better of me and on those days it is nice to know that at least one day each year, I might receive public thanks for this work. ... On the other 364 days of the year when public thanks are elusive, however, private thanks are plentiful. I receive more “thank yous” from my patients at the abortion clinic than anywhere else. It is tempting to think their gratitude is due to the quality of care that I provide. But the sad reality is that, more often than not, I receive these thanks because many people don’t expect to receive compassionate care during an abortion.
My intention to be a compassionate reproductive health care provider who trusts that my patients know what is best for them means that, in fact, I can’t not provide abortions.
Image: Planned Parenthood/Tumblr