As a Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife, I have spent my entire career working with women. I have coached them through labor pains, cried with them after a miscarriage and held their hand during an abortion. I have always considered myself to be an advocate for women’s health, but after working at Planned Parenthood I am now, more so than ever.
I’m terrified by what I’m seeing happen around this country. From the rash of abortion bans, the criminalization of abortion, and the news last week from the Ninth Circuit, which allows the Trump administration’s dangerous gag rule to go into effect in every state except Maryland.
The gag rule makes it illegal for health care providers in the Title X program to refer patients for abortion care, and is also intended to block access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. The Title X program is the nation’s only family planning program and it provides access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatments, annual exams and more for the four million people in our country, and nearly 7,000 people in Alaska who need it. It has also contributed to our record low teen pregnancy and abortion rates.
Elected officials have made it clear they are coming after abortion care, and they are actively working to chip away basic reproductive health care until it is completely eliminated.
It is no secret that the gag rule is meant to further erode abortion access, but the consequences will extend far beyond that. Each week, I see women actively taking control of their health and futures by asking for contraception. I give answers to questions about bodies, health and disease prevention that young people aren’t getting anywhere else. I’ve reassured a teen mom who braved passing through protesters to get emergency contraception.
We need the support of every elected leader who has pledged to stand up and protect reproductive health and rights. Americans do not want to see their health, their freedom or their rights taken away.
That’s why we have seen tens of thousands speak out against the abortion bans across the country, and hundreds here in Alaska say, “no, not here.”
Despite what we’re seeing across the country, the issue of reproductive health care is not a partisan one. Seven in 10 Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. In Alaska, 63 percent of people surveyed last year supported upholding Roe v. Wade. The vast majority of Alaskans share a love for limited government intervention, for independence and autonomy, for family and for affordable, accessible health care.
I am proud to have an elected leader, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, stand in support of Title X and the valuable services Planned Parenthood provides. My patients depend on this care and I know she will continue to be an advocate. My job, like yours, is not to tell people what they need. My job is to listen to people telling me what they need and give that to them.
I work at Planned Parenthood because I love what I do, I love Juneau, and I love Alaska. But more importantly, the care I provide through Planned Parenthood is invaluable to Alaska. I am here to care for people. I’m here for all Alaskans. To hold their secrets, share in their triumphs, and witness their pain.
Don’t let this administration take this away from us. Don’t let the gag rule take this away from Alaska.
• Alix Curtain is a clinician at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. She was born and raised in Juneau, graduated from JDHS in 2004has a master’s of science in nursing from Georgetown University and is board certified as a nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner.