Primary care saves lives, improves individual and community health, and is essential to achieving health equity. High-quality, comprehensive primary care includes the full suite of physical and behavioral health services people need to live healthy, productive lives.
Reproductive health care, including abortion, is an essential component of primary care. Primary care providers both directly provide and refer patients to the reproductive health care they need, including birth control, preconception care, counseling, and abortion services. Women see their primary care providers substantially more than men, especially in their reproductive years. Reproductive health care services are essential for the 72 million women2 of reproductive age in the US, of which one in 4 will have an abortion before they are 45.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States held that women have the right to decide whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion. However, in the years since, state lawmakers in many states have enacted laws intended to restrict or ban abortion. The Supreme Court now looks poised to overrule Roe v. Wade and hold that there is no constitutional protection for abortion rights, giving policymakers, insurers, providers, and others – rather than the pregnant woman herself –the power to decide when or whether to end her pregnancy.
As PCDC works to build a patient-centered approach to health care with quality, accessible primary care at its core, we call on all health care payers, providers, and policymakers to recognize sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion services, as an inseparable part of primary care; and that high-quality, comprehensive primary care should never be restricted or compromised based on politics or ideology.
1 Jessica Beaman & Dean Schillinger, Responding to Evolving Abortion Regulations — The Critical Role of Primary Care, 380 N. Eng. J. Med. e30(1) (2019), available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1903572.
2 In addition to women, other individuals who do not identify as women, including transgender men and some non-binary people, may also have the capacity to become pregnant and need access to comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion.