To the Editor…

by on January 6, 2014

We are shocked to see banners blaring that “Abortion hurts women” hanging from the City’s lamp posts in San Francisco. This statement is false, and harmful to women and girls. It contradicts City policies and practices. We call on the Mayor to take the banners down.

Abortion is safe. Access to legal abortion services is essential.

Access to legal and affordable family planning health care services including abortion has been critical for expanding economic, educational and professional success and emotional satisfaction for women, the men and children in their lives and for communities as a whole

The best birth control can sometimes fail. Half of U.S. women have an unintended pregnancy, and the rate is 5 times higher for low-income women and girls compared with middle and high income women. Denied abortion care perpetuates poverty.

About a third of U.S. women have at least one abortion. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures.

Too many women routinely lost their lives from illegal abortions before 1973. Today, deaths from abortion have all but disappeared.

State and federal legislation increasingly aim to defund reproductive health care services and limit women’s rights. These actions hurt women and girls.

Campaigns to defund and stigmatize abortion, and impose repressive views about sexuality, disempower and subordinate women and girls, and prevent them from choosing and using the vital reproductive health care services they think best. Their tactics include violence against abortion providers, and harassment of patients at health centers.

San Francisco must preach what we practice.

San Francisco and California do an outstanding job of improving the accessibility and affordability of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. We can be proud that San Francisco and California policies support women’s health. But our public pronouncements matter.

By approving these banners for prominent display on public property, the City’s “Main Street,” the City contributes to undermining women’s personal and private medical decisions, and undermining public health.

It is further troubling that these lies are posted just outside of major commercial institutions, including See’s Candy, First Republic Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and E-Trade.

The banners violate the City’s own regulations, because they display an inaccurate date for the related event, and the event is not of interest to a significant portion of San Francisco residents. The City should enforce and strengthen these rules.

It’s time for San Francisco’s elected leaders to take a stand against these statements that lie about public health, and to advocate proactively for public health policies and services that encourage women’s right to choose the best course for their own reproductive health. This stand should include support for the federal Women’s Health Protection Act.

We call on the City to Take Down the Banners.

Ellen Shaffer’s (Trust Women) blog,

Filed under: Letters to the Editor