Difference between revisions of "This Door Stays Open: A Community Action Guide"

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Latest revision as of 13:42, 29 July 2020

National Abortion Federation
Washington, D.C.


Abortion is a part of good reproductive health care.  By providing this 
service, health practitioners who perform abortions have contributed to the 
improvement of the health of women and children in this country.  What can you 
do to support abortion providers in your community and protect access to 
reproductive health care?  Plenty  and here are some ideas to get you 
started:




Supporting Providers



1.  Wear a "This Door Stays Open" Button  all the time!  Put it on when you 
go shopping, when you're on public transportation, when you go out to eat.  
You'll get lots of questions  "What door?  Why should it stay open?"  These 
are opportunities to get more people involved!  (Carry a few extra buttons 
with you.)

2.  Ask your local abortion provider what you can do to help.  Some 
possibilities:

Volunteer as a patient escort when clinics have blockades or picketers.
Sponsor a "clinic watch" program  if you live near a clinic or drive by one 
regularly, make a point of scanning for anything or anyone unusual on the 
premises, especially late at night.  You can even set up a schedule if enough 
people are interested and the clinic agrees.
Offer your professional services pro bono  legal work, accounting, graphic 
design, or other skills.
Provide transportation for patients or staff, especially in bad weather.
Host a fundraiser  many clinics have funds to help women who cannot afford to 
pay for abortion or birth control, and these funds are usually stretched to 
the limit.
Organize a neighborhood or city "clinic support" group and plan activities.  
For example, if a nearby provider is being personally harassed, sponsor a 
block party for their family.  When the picketers arrive, the neighbors will 
all be out on their lawns, socializing, having a potluck meal, and displaying 
signs that say "Friends of Dr.      ," or "We support Dr.       ." 

3.  Correspond with the clinic regularly.  Send the staff holiday cards, and 
write notes of encouragement and concern if you hear of an incident of 
blockading or vandalism.  A positive letter from a supportive neighbor will 
brighten the day for the entire staff.

Involving Other Physicians and the Medical Community
4.  Ask your own family physician or OB/GYN if he or she performs abortions.  
If the answer is yes, refer friends to this physician and back him or her all 
the way!  If the answer is no, ask why not.  Ask if they support the abortion 
providers in the area and would consider working with them.  If your physician 
is anti-choice, change doctors!

5.  If there is a medical school in or near your community, find out if their 
program includes abortion training.  If not, submit a proposal that they add 
this training.  Ask if the medical school's residency program includes a 
rotation with a local abortion provider.  Again, if it does not, demand that 
it be added.  Abortion is one of the most common types of gynecological 
surgery, and it must be taught universally in medical schools and residency 
programs.

6.  Do you know a retired doctor who remembers the days when abortions were 
illegal?  Ask him or her to speak out about those experiences and share the 
understanding of why we must protect access to safe, legal abortion.

7.  Find out if your local hospital provides abortions.  If they do, send 
supportive letters to the hospital board.  If not, organize a petition drive 
asking the hospital to add abortion services.

Work in Civic, Religious and Professional Groups
8.  Join local civic organizations where you can make a difference on this 
issue.  Get involved with the PTA, the school board, the hospital committee, 
and other educational, medical, and public service groups.

9.  Involve your professional, philanthropic, educational, religious, or other 
community group.  Do you belong to an organization such as the Jaycees, 
Kiwanis, the library association, the downtown merchants' association, or a 
church council?  Ask if you can plan a program for one of your group's 
meetings, and invite a provider to speak as part of the program.

10.  Ask your minister, pastor, rabbi or other clergy to speak out during 
worship and condemn violence and intimidation directed against providers.

11.  Go to city council or neighborhood committee meetings, and get on the 
agenda!  Prepare a brief statement calling on the city or your neighborhood to 
get involved in supporting abortion providers.

12.  Ask local and national organizations to which you belong to adopt an 
official pro-choice position, if they don't have one already.

13.  If you are a lawyer, and you don't belong to the American Bar 
Association, join!  Be sure to tell them that one of the reasons you are 
joining is because the ABA has readopted its official pro-choice position.

Letters and Lobbying
14.  Write a letter to the editor or op-ed page for your local newspaper.  
Talk specifically about the services of abortion providers, their importance, 
and how urgent it is that your community stand together against harassment and 
terrorism.  (Be sure to share copies of these and other letters with your 
providers.)

15.  Write to all your community leaders, asking that they advocate strict 
penalties against those who blockade, vandalize, and terrorize abortion 
facilities and their staffs.  Write to  and follow up with  your mayor, city 
council, city, district and state's attorneys, local judges, and chief of 
police.

16.  Encourage city officials to adopt a resolution or policy statement 
stating the city's pro-choice position, and declaring that the city welcomes 
abortion and reproductive health care facilities as part of the community.

17.  Find out if your state has an anti-stalking law, and if so, if the 
state's attorney general has an opinion on whether the law applies to those 
who stalk abortion providers.  Lobby your governor and state legislators for 
such laws.

18.  Write to companies with which you do business, and ask their position on 
choice.  If they have a corporate giving program (most large companies do), 
ask if they give to Planned Parenthood or other reproductive health service 
organizations.  Explain why every corporate giving program should support 
abortion services and reproductive health care.  Do not do business with 
companies whose policies are anti-choice. 

Media Advocacy
19.  Call in to community talk radio shows or national call-in programs such 
as C-SPAN, and speak out against clinic blockades and antiabortion violence.

20.  Ask your local radio or television stations to air programs on the need 
for accessible abortion services, and the threat posed by antiabortion 
militants.  One good film to suggest is Dorothy Fadiman's "When Abortion Was 
Illegal:  Untold Stories."  You can find out more about this Academy Award-
nominated documentary by calling (415) 321-5590, or writing Concentric Media, 
1070 Colby Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

What Doctors Can Do
21.  If you're a physician and have not been trained in abortion practice, 
find out if a local facility offers a training rotation. 

22.  Support colleagues who perform abortions.  If a colleague in your medical 
building or hospital is being harassed or picketed, work with other physicians 
to lend your personal and professional support.

23.  If you are a medical student or resident and your program does not offer 
abortion instruction and training, organize a student movement to demand that 
it be added to the curriculum.  Hold petition drives and speak-outs.

If You've Had an Abortion
24.  Claim the experience.  Share it with friends and help to combat the idea 
that having an abortion is a shameful or secret experience.  You made a choice 
that was right for you, and you should not have to hide.

25.  Keep in touch with your provider.  Over forty percent of American women 
will have an abortion at some time in their lives.  You are a powerful force.  
If you want other women to have the same good care you had, write or call your 
provider on occasion and ask how you can stay involved.

Pass It On and Keep It Going
26.  Share this list with friends  and brainstorm new ideas!  Please write to 
NAF and tell us of your efforts.  If one of the suggestions on this list pays 
off, let us know.  If you're inspired to create a new project, tell us about 
it!

Abortion is safe and legal in America.  We must work to make sure it remains 
accessible  and that women who seek abortions and the professionals who 
provide them are not harassed, intimidated or terrorized.  You can make a 
difference, and you must.  Get started!