Planned Parenthood Westside Health Center officially reopened on Sunday, May1, in Colorado Springs. We gathered on a cold, snowy day in a tent with guards at the door to protect us from potential violence. On the front wall, we faced a banner stating: “WE DEPLORE YOUR VIOLENCE. WE REJECT YOUR THREATS. WE AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE.” On the street nearby were protesters to remind us that despite this tragedy, they were unrelenting in their belief that abortion was evil.

Planned Parenthood was fully reopening after a gunman killed three people and injured nine people he did not know on November 27th. He didn’t consider that he was killing people with children, people with lives filled with loved ones & responsibility. How could he be unaware that these deaths would result in pain and grief in a community and a nation? Perhaps he believed ‘nothing personal’: I’m “a warrior for babies”.

In the tent were staff and patients who survived. Standing next to them were advocates, politicians, clergy and citizens who believe that all decisions related to health have an emotionally complicated context; people who know it is imperative that health decisions be made by the individual with respect to their own condition, situation, and personal beliefs. This mantra must apply to women.

The efforts by those who are adamantly anti choice want to prevent a woman from having an abortion, which is a known, legal & safe medical procedure. These efforts are disrespectful to women who have the right to make decisions about their health and future.

We each know of lives complicated by unintended pregnancies and pregnancies with medical complications and pregnancies that result from rape or incest. These are personal stories that need not be expressed with shame or humiliation. Women should not be obligated to explain their lives to others. These are private matters. Planned Parenthood and other providers offer confidentiality and respect and a safe, low-risk medical procedure for women.

The cynical efforts of those who want to restrict a woman’s right to abortion ignore the complications of life and the reality that women have and will seek abortion even when it is not legal. We must not shame or judge women who have abortions.

It is confounding and curious that the same people who often claim that government is too involved in citizens’ personal lives simultaneously seek to insert punitive government measures into the most personal of matters, such as abortion, even though abortion is legal everywhere in this country. Those who favor restricting abortion access are often committed to restricting the very methods that reduce abortion. We know that comprehensive sex education and increased access to contraception both reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion. Yet, those who protest against abortion often do not support these services.

We must thank Planned Parenthood and all advocates of reproductive choice and justice for sustaining access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive health. They continue to provide safe and caring medical care for women and men. Let us celebrate the benefits of reproductive health care for women and their families. We will not return to back alley abortions and being stripped of the right control our own bodies.

We will not be intimidated by violence and the unnecessary rhetoric of blaming, shaming and inflaming hate. As Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said, the re-opening of this clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado is a testament to the fact that “LOVE is so much more powerful than hate.”

The founders of the SmartSexapp are committed to supporting access to comprehensive reproductive health including contraception and abortion and making sure that all people have access to accurate sexual health information.

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