As the war against legal abortion continues in conservative states like Iowa, there’s another battle against abortion being waged a lot more privately. A new report by the National Women’s Law Center found that discrimination against healthcare professionals for supporting or providing abortion is widespread.
Doctors and nurses should never fear losing their jobs simply because they treated patients seeking abortion, or because they support abortion access. Yet across the country clinicians are fired, threatened, and otherwise punished for providing abortion services, seeking abortion training, or engaging in advocacy around abortion. This kind of discrimination is unacceptable, but it is little known or addressed.
Abortion care is health care—and it shouldn’t be seen as otherwise by healthcare employers. Unfortunately, clinicians are being punished for simply acknowledging that abortion exists—or being threatened with their jobs if they do anything in support of abortion.
A physician in the West was forced to choose between providing abortion care and keeping their primary job at a Catholic health care system. “For years I worked for a small private practice and provided abortions once a week at a clinic nearby. Then a Catholic hospital system bought the practice and told me that if I wanted to keep my job I would have to stop providing abortions at the local clinic.”
This sort of discrimination doesn’t just hurt workers; patients suffer, too. When healthcare providers are getting punished for being even slightly associated with abortion, it pushes physicians (who may be otherwise interested) from providing abortion care. A study in 2010 found that the possibility of a hostile work environment is a more serious deterrent to providing abortions than the possibility of abortion clinic violence.
As a result, we’re seeing a shortage of abortion providers—and physicians who would be otherwise strong advocates for pro-choice policies. Abortion has been weaponized against healthcare professionals—and we’re all worse off because of it.
Click here to download and read the full report.