Written statement prepared for Columbus Ohio City Council meeting held 6/14/2015:
My name is Amanda Wilson. I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker in the State of Ohio. I am a member of North Broadway United Methodist Church. I am a wife and a mother.
Female bodies bear the majority of the burden of bringing new life into the world. This miraculous ability given to the female body comes with significantly increased healthcare costs over the course of one’s reproductive life- from first menses to menopause. I believe that affordable, high quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Perhaps the most significant component of affordable, high quality healthcare is access to it. It does not matter if resources exist if women are not able to readily access them. Harassment and intimidation prevent and inhibit women’s access to affordable and high quality reproductive healthcare. The fact that this harassment and intimidation is levied particularly at women is a form of discrimination, when women are already burdened with increased healthcare costs over the course of a lifetime. Yelling at women, criticizing them, cajoling them, praying at them, displaying signs and distributing pamphlets that provide misleading and inaccurate information, all of these activities are forms of harassment and intimidation.
Just Monday, I was walking on East Broad where I saw a women yelling at a couple out back of a reproductive health clinic. She was yelling “You don’t have to do this! Let us help you!” I found her behavior to be disturbing and frightening and it was not even directed at me. This woman was with another woman who had posted a yard sign with misleading information designed to frighten.
I respect every citizen’s right to free speech, protest and prayer. However, activities designed to harass and intimidate women from receiving healthcare at a healthcare facility are not an appropriate expression of a person’s dissent with abortion. Jesus was a teacher who brought a message of radical love, acceptance, and grace into the world. As Christians, we are called upon to share wisdom, not ignorance. To spread love, not fear. To provide care to those in need, not limit their access to care. Because of that, I am called to speak up for the right of women to access affordable, high quality healthcare without the threat of harassment and intimidation. That’s why this ordinance is so important and I urge you to pass it.