Following is the text of the letter I sent to the board of MCDH yesterday in regards to the “Mendocino Coast Coalition for Life” and their attempt to restrict freedom of choice for women in Mendocino County. I think that it pretty well sums up my thoughts on the issue.
To the Board of Directors and Staff of MCDH,
I was shocked to see the newspaper this morning and learn that a group of meddlesome individuals were attempting to restrict health choices for women in your facility on the basis of their own moral agenda. I was pleased to see that many members of your board indicated that they support access to abortion for women in Fort Bragg and the other areas covered by MCDH, but I wanted to write in with my impassioned support for abortion services at the hospital.
While I have fortunately never had to utilize these services myself, I firmly believe that all women have the right to choose, and that safe, legal, and compassionate abortions should be made available to women who feel that terminating a pregnancy is in their best interests or in the best interests of the unborn child. While I understand and sympathize with people who are opposed to abortion, I feel that any move to ban or restrict abortion services at MCDH would have very serious consequences.
For women choosing elective abortion, the emotional strain and stress of terminating a pregnancy would be greatly increased by being forced to travel to Santa Rosa for abortion services. This may also be financially unfeasible for many women in Mendocino County who need abortions, and a woman who cannot afford to travel for an abortion is probably financially unprepared for the expense of prenatal care and raising a child. Given that most anti-choice organizations appear uninterested in providing care and services for children once they are born, I find their attempts to restrict access to abortion disingenuous, at best. In the case of women who need such services for medical reasons, such as women enduring a miscarriage, I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional agony of being turned away from your doors and forced to drive several hours for medical treatment. In addition to being heart rending, this would also be medically dangerous.
Like many members of the pro choice movement, I would love to live in a world where there are no abortions because every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy, and I firmly support programs which are designed to reduce unwanted pregnancies and inform women about all of the options available to them. These options include abortion, and the need for this service is unlikely to vanish any time in the near future, much though we all might wish it might. To those who oppose abortion, I say: don’t have one.
I am well aware that this is a touchy issue, and you will probably be receiving many letters discussing both sides of the matter in the coming days and weeks. I encourage you to remain true to your mission as a public hospital which provides all health services to people who need them, without judgment or prejudice. Given that anti-choice ballot measures are routinely voted down in Mendocino County, I think it is safe to say that you would be serving the bulk of the community by refusing to capitulate to the demands of the Mendocino Coast Coalition for Life.
S. E. Smith