Dear Obstetricians, Gynecologists and reproductive medical practitioners of Athens,

We are writing to say thank you. Thank you for the sonograms, pap smears, cures and answers. Thank you for reminding us that we do not make difficult choices alone. We are so grateful for your wisdom and kindness, from labor room to hospice bed.

There is something we are missing: an abortion provider.

We have heard gynecologists answer abortion queries with sharp brush-offs and slammed doors. We have experienced pressure to continue a pregnancy we were not able to support fiscally or physically from the crisis pregnancy center. We have been warned about how “dangerous” the procedure is, even though abortion is 14 times safer than labor.

So we want to take this opportunity to share what we can’t always during our appointments: we want abortions. We’re willing to pay for them. And we think that people who can’t pay for them should be able to have them, too.

The tragic irony of abortion access is that those who can’t afford it are the folks that need it most. A $500 first-trimester procedure is a tiny expense relative to hospital bills, baby formula, unpaid leave, and the unknowable cost of a life altered against your choosing.

Athens-Clarke has the 8th highest income inequality and the third highest county poverty level given population in the United States. The teen pregnancy rate is between 42.5 %, or 59% adjusted for year-round residents. Our Maternal Mortality Rate mirrors the national disparity between black and white women: three black mothers die in childbirth for every white woman.

For these reasons, and so many others, our lack of an abortion provider is completely unacceptable.

96% of Georgia counties do not have an abortion provider. Many people must choose between covering the cost of gas to drive to a distantly located clinic with the cost of post-procedure antibiotics and pain medication. Many of them are weighing those costs with keeping their lights on or buying groceries for their children.

Magnolia Fund, an abortion fund founded in Athens, reports people traveling hundreds of miles from six neighboring states to obtain abortions in Atlanta.

An abortion provider in Athens would significantly improve reproductive health access for people in our town, the surrounding rural areas and all surrounding states. It would alter the landscape of reproductive care in the Southeast, where even one provider has an enormous impact.

Abortion allows students to keep studying, parents to keep parenting and folks barely making it by to survive. We are calling on you to declare your support for this necessary medical service and inalienable human right. Please show compassion to us in this especially vulnerable area, as you do in so many others.

The People of Athens

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